Cycling: Sky blown off course – and lose Arvesen in freak accident

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The Independent Online

On a high after Sunday's team time trial win in the Tour of Qatar, Team Sky came down to earth with a bang yesterday, losing both Edvald Boasson Hagen's overall lead as well as one of his team-mates, Kurt Asle Arvesen, the latter before racing began.

Just a few hundred metres before the startline Arvesen's bike span out of control after hitting a cats-eye. The Norwegian fell heavily, breaking his collarbone. "Psychologically that was a huge blow because Kurt was going to be calling the shots," team principal Dave Brailsford said.

His metaphor was more than appropriate given the strength of the gale that battered the peloton all day, rendering racing chaotic and shattering the bunch into four groups.

"There were crashes and screaming and shouting when it split, and we just had to keep going and hope," said Sky rider Ian Stannard, who with Boasson Hagen was in the second group of four. "We all knew that a split was bound to happen in the wind, so everybody was really nervous."

Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins added: "I was second into that corner where the race split. Everybody was shocked after Kurt crashed, it was a really rude awakening, and then we all got a bit scattered at a crucial time."

Trying to chase down the 20-man lead group, Boasson Hagen looked isolated but he and Stannard managed to hold the gap at 30sec. However, misfortune then struck again when the Norwegian punctured. With the bunch blasting towards the finish at speeds of nearly 70kph (43mph), Boasson Hagen was unable to regain contact and he finished nine minutes down.

"That puncture was just game over for us," Stannard, eventually Sky's first rider on the day in 27th spot, said, although Brailsford remained upbeat. "Losing the lead is a disappointment, but in sport you win one day and you lose the next. I'm more disappointed for Kurt, this is his second collarbone break in less than a year and it is going to be really tough for him."