Australians suffer on second Alpine stage

Australian Stuart O'Grady escaped serious spinal injuries, according to hospital officials who treated him after a crash in the eighth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday.

Australian Stuart O'Grady escaped serious spinal injuries, according to hospital officials who treated him after a crash in the eighth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday.

O'Grady's Tour ended when he crashed on the descent of the Cormet de Roselend climb, which took a costly toll on the peloton. After being put on a special stretcher, used in case of eventual spinal injuries, he was taken immediately to hospital in nearby Moutiers where he underwent x-rays and was undergoing an MRI scan.

According to hospital officials O'Grady has suffered fractures on five of his ribs. Officials said that the x-rays showed no damage to the spinal column.

Earlier, his compatriot Michael Rogers, of T-Mobile, was left with hand, knee and shoulder injuries after a crash near the bottom of the descent. He was also forced out of the race. Rogers was in the virtual yellow jersey and travelling in excess of 60km/h when a sudden braking manoeuvre brought him down on a left hand bend.

He was later diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder. The Canberran returned to the team hotel, where he was left lamenting what was a great chance to take control of the race.

"It's a real shame because I could see the yellow jersey," he said. "One moment I was in the lead, the next I was lying on the ground with my back wheel where my front wheel should have been.

"But honestly, I can't complain because that's cycling."

A third Australian, Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) was dropped on the first climb of the day and failed to finish within the time limits.

Sinkewitz crash adds to T-Mobile woes

A spectator was in a coma after the eighth stage of the Tour de France here Sunday after being involved in a collision with German rider Patrik Sinkewitz, organisers said.

Sinkewitz, of the T-Mobile team, was still on his bike when he collided with the spectator after the end of the 165km stage, which began in Le Grand-Bornand.

The man, who has not been named, was flown by helicopter to hospital after losing consciousness.

Sinkewitz was also taken to hospital with early diagnosis suggesting he has a broken nose.

© AFP 2007

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