Australian sprint star Robbie McEwen will miss the Tour de France after badly injuring his left knee in his second crash in a month in Belgium, his Katusha team said Thursday.
McEwen, 36, was admitted to hospital with what his team feared could be a career-threatening injury in the second stage of the Tour of Belgium.
"Robbie hit a tub of flowers and fell. He went off to hospital for analysis," said the racer's sporting director Jef Braeckevelt. "I am hoping for good news but I fear a serious injury as he has an open and deep wound just above the knee," he added.
His fears proved well-founded as team official Bart Leysen later told Italian television that the rider's "ligaments have been strained and a tendon may have been partially torn."
Leysen added that doctors had warned McEwen may have to quit the saddle for some four months and "fears for his career."
A team statement added that McEwen "cut his ligaments under his left knee and the doctors are rebuilding it, (hence) it's almost impossible his participation at the Tour de France."
This latest accident came weeks after the Aussie was left with concussion after a tumble in the Grand Prix de l'Escaut, also in Belgium.
That put paid to his plan to compete in the Tour of Italy, forcing him to concentrate instead on this race as preparation for the Tour de France.
© 2009 AFP