March 8, 2010 / 4:24 AM / 8 years ago

Whirlwind leaves Steegmans with broken collarbone

MONTFORT L’AMAURY, France (Reuters) - Team RadioShack rider Gert Steegmans broke his left collarbone when a whirlwind caused him to crash during the prologue of the Paris-Nice race on Sunday.

Radioshack's team rider Gert Steegmans of Belgium cycles before crashing in the prologue of the Paris-Nice cycling race in Montfort l'Amaury March 7, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

The wind lifted the Belgian’s bike off the ground while he was travelling at 75-kph on a downhill section of the course, the team said on their website (www.teamradioshack.us).

“I saw the wind coming,” said team director Dirk Demol. “Leaves and tree branches flew in the air and a second later Gert was lifted in the air too. He was blown away from the road and tumbled over and over many times. It was a terrible crash.

“I’ve never seen such a thing in my life. It took 12 minutes for the ambulance to arrive while we waited and could do nothing.”

Steegmans, a team mate of seven-times Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, also has a contusion of the shoulder muscle and road rash all over his body.

He will have an operation on his shoulder on Monday and is expected to be out of action for at least three weeks.

Dutchman Lars Boom, who rides for the Rabobank team, won the eight-km prologue near Paris in 10 minutes 56 seconds.

Writing by Alison Wildey in London, editing by Tony Jimenez. To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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