6 July 2011 –Team RadioShack’s Jani Brajkovic (27) suffered a race-ending injury in a day filled with more than ten crashes in Wednesday’s stage 5 of the Tour de France. Brajkovic touched wheels with another cyclist on the narrow roads of northern France and came down hard on the pavement, appearing to be momentarily knocked out. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Guingamp where a fracture in the lateral third part of the left collarbone and a brain concussion were diagnosed.
“I don’t remember anything of the crash,” said Jani Brajkovic. “I remember the moment I was about to crash and then the next thing I remember was our team doctor asking me if I thought I could continue. But I wasn’t aware of where I was and which race I was in. Nothing. So it was clear that I had to go to the hospital. Obviously I am super disappointed with this. This is the worst case scenario for me. My entire year was focused on this Tour de France and now after five days it’s over. But on the other hand, I think I can recover pretty fast and go for the Vuelta and get results there. But still, the Tour de France is something special and it’s very hard for me and for my heart. It’s very sad.”
“It’s too bad because we started with four guys for GC and wanted to try to keep those four guys until we reached the mountains,” said Team Manager Johan Bruyneel after the stage. “At the same time, this is the Tour de France and riders were nervous all day. Levi was in a crash. Horner had a wheel change and was in the back by himself. Then Jani crashed. Popo waited for him but later he crashed with an ambulance. So at one point we had half of the team at the back. Now we’ve lost Jani, one of our protected riders, which is a shame. But that’s the way it is in racing. Truthfully it could have been worse,” Bruyneel concluded.
Jani Brajkovic had targeted this year’s Tour de France in his year-long racing program and came to the start as one of four protected riders for Team RadioShack, along with Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden. Brajkovic recently won the Slovenian time trial championships and brought good form to this year’s Tour. In 2010 Brajkovic won the prestigious Critérium du Dauphiné in front of Alberto Contador.
“I know it’s just words, but after yesterday’s stage I knew I could do my part in this year’s Tour,” said a clearly disappointed Brajkovic from the hospital. “The doctor says if they insert a pin in my collarbone I could ride very quickly, after a few days, but my head needs a few more days, so I’d say I might be back on the rollers in another five days and after that go day-by-day to see how I’m feeling. I might be on the road a few days after that.”
Levi Leipheimer and Yaroslav Popovych crashed too. Both riders suffer from a contusion of the wrist (Leipheimer left wrist, Popovych right wrist). Popovych’s swollen wrist was examined in the hospital of Saint-Brieuc where no fracture was diagnosed. Both riders are expected to be able to start in Tour de France’s sixth stage from Dinan to Lisieux.
Source: Team Radioshack Press Release