Cancellara out of spring classics

Fabian Cancellara has been ruled out of next month’s Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix after breaking vertebrae in the E3 Harelbeke race in Belgium.

The crash in first classic of the year fractured two vertebrae in Cancellara’s lower back, ruling him out of the remainder of the spring campaign.

The Swiss rider, 34, was considered a big threat to the hopes of Sir Bradley Wiggins in his final Paris-Roubaix.

Former champion Tom Boonen also misses both races with a shoulder injury.

Boonen has won the Tour of Flanders four times and the Paris-Roubaix three times.

The absence of Cancellara and Boonen will aid Team Sky rider Wiggins’ bid for success in the Paris-Roubaix, his final road race

before switching to the track

and his bid to qualify for the Rio 2016 Games.

Cancellara, a three-time winner both of the forthcoming spring classics and the defending Tour of Flanders champion, crashed out within the first hour of the E3 Harelbeke and abandoned the race shortly afterwards.

His Trek Factory Racing team

wrote on Twitter: 

“X-rays have confirmed the worst: Two fractures of vertebrae in lower back for Cancellara means no spring campaign.”

Team director Dirk Demol added on Belgian television: “It seems that a water bottle fell on the cobbles and caused it. He hit his wrist and the lower part of his back. He wasn’t looking good at all.”

The Tour of Flanders is held on 5 April with the Paris-Roubaix running a week later.

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