REIMS // The Luxembourg champion Frank Schleck has had a plate and six screws inserted into his broken collarbone, his Saxo Bank team say. Schleck needed surgery on the injury he sustained when he crashed during a cobbled section of yesterday's third stage of the Tour de France to Arenberg. "Frank went back to the hotel to say goodbye to his brother Andy and his teammates," the Saxo Bank media officer Rene Thill said.
"He then went to Luxembourg for surgery, which lasted until three in the morning. It was a double fracture and he received a plate with six screws." Schleck, who was fifth in the 2009 Tour, told his team chief Bjarne Riis that he was hoping to be ready for the Tour of Spain on August 28. Schleck is a big loss to the Saxo Bank team and especially his younger brother Andy, who was runner-up to Alberto Contador in last year's Tour and may have needed Frank's backing in the mountains.
"It's true that there is a very close relationship between them but Andy has matured a lot since last year," said the team sports director Bradley McGee. "It won't affect our plans too much. Everybody will need to raise their game a little bit, that's all," he added. Today's 153.5km fourth stage from Cambrai to Reims was won by the Italian Alessandro Petacchi riding for Lampre-Farnese Vini. The New Zealander Julian Dean was second and Edvald Baosson Hagen of Norway in third.
The Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara retains the yellow jersey going into tomorrow's fifth stage to Epernay-Montargis. * Reuters