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The Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellera was leading the Tour de France this year at stage 3. But whilst wearing the yellow jersey on July 6th he was involved in a multi-bike crash causing him to go over the handle bars.
Cancellera persevered and with 55km to go finished stage 3, albeit 11 minutes and 54 seconds behind the leader. Cancellera had in fact broken two vertebrae in his lower back. The same injury he had suffered 3 months previously after another big crash at E3 Harelbeke.
After the first crash Cancellerabut just bit through the pain. In some circumstances stable fractures to the lower back can be treated conservatively, with the aid of an external back brace and should heal on its own. In more severe cases then surgery maybe an option and can be minimally invasive surgery rather than open back surgery,reducing the risk of infection and recovery time.
Cancellera did have a decision to make as to whether to go on but due to the nature of the course in stage 4, involving riding over lots of cobbles, it was decided that he should pull out of the race, as there was a fear that this would aggravate the fracture. He has already been back training only a month after his spinal injury and rides up to 4 hours long and intends to make his return at the Vuelta a Espana on August 22nd, not even 7 weeks after fracturing his spine for the second time this year.
The Tour highlights the risks involved in not only cycling events, but also raises the awareness of road safety for cyclists on open roads in general. Department for Transport in 2014, reported cycling road casualties to be:
Seriously injured: 3,401
Other less severely Injured: 17,773
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