Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) will not start stage 8 at the 2019 Tour de France after fracturing his thumb in a crash early during stage 7 on Friday. The American went down just 7km into the 230km stage from Belfort to Chalon-Sur-Saone, finishing the final 223km after visiting the medical car, but his team said Friday evening that the 30-year-old’s injuries were too severe to continue.
Doctors from EF Education First and the race examined van Garderen immediately at the finish line and determined the rider required an X-ray, which was performed by the race radiologist. The X-ray confirmed that van Garderen had broken his hand.
“After today’s stage, Tejay had his wounds cleaned and bandaged,” said EF Education First doctor Kevin Sprouse. “We then went for an X-ray. In addition to multiple abrasions, it was determined that he has a non-displaced fracture at the base of his first metacarpal on the left hand. He has been placed in a splint and will not start stage eight.”
Van Garderen, who finished the stage with blood on his legs, hands and face, was obviously disappointed to leave his eighth Tour, adding that he had no one to blame but himself.
“The crash was a result of a personal error,” said the two-time top-five Tour de France finisher. “I was looking down at my bike because I saw something caught up in it, like a piece of paper, so I was looking down and I hit a median. I have no one to blame but myself, and I really hope that no one else got hurt because of me.”
Van Garderen was slated to be a key lieutenant in the mountains for general classification contender Rigoberto Uran, who finished second to Chris Froome (Team Ineos) in 2017. Van Garderen would also have been a card to play with Canadian Michael Woods as the team hunts stage wins in the mountains.
“All I’m thinking about now is the disappointment, less for myself and more for the team,” van Garderen said. “Rigo and Woods, they both have a big chance to podium, to win stages, even to win the whole damn Tour. I would have loved to have been a part of that, to contribute to that, but unfortunately, as all cyclists have become accustomed to saying, these things happen.”
Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters, who signed van Garderen in the offseason from BMC Racing, said it’s never easy to see a rider leave the Tour under such circumstances.
“There is a huge amount of work that goes into the preparation for this race, and no one wants to be there more than these riders do,” Vaughters said. “After talking with Tejay, our doctor and race directors this evening, we’re not only concerned about Tejay doing lasting damage to the fractured bone if he were to continue riding, but we are also concerned for the safety of others, too. Full use of your hand is important when racing alongside 180 riders.
“We will miss having him in the team,” Vaughters continued. “He has showed great form coming into the race. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he’ll be back racing again soon.”