Florian Vermeersch suffered a broken femur in a crash in his first race of the year at the Vuelta a Murcia on Saturday. The Belgian had just completed a three-week altitude training camp with his Lotto-Dsty teammates in Tenerife.
After showing good form on the category 1 climb of Alto Collado Bermejo, 91km into the 198.7km race, Vermeersch crashed on the descent and went over a guardrail into the ravine.
“When I saw Florian lying there, I immediately knew it was serious. He lay all alone among some bushes, groaning in pain. He had a lot of abrasions. I sat with him for ten minutes, he was completely devastated,” team director Dirk Demol told Het Laatste Nieuws.
Losing Vermeesch, who was second at 2021 Paris-Roubaix, is a major hit to the team’s ambition for the Spring Classics. He was to be a top domestique for Arnaud De Lie and possibly, go for victory himself.
The 24-year rider had planned a racing schedule that included Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Saxo Bank Classic, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Demol added, “Florian was a key player. We have good drivers, but someone who finishes second in Paris-Roubaix at the age of 22 is more than just a helper. Florian was Arnaud’s first lieutenant and was very close behind the leader. This is a major disappointment for us.”
De Lie, meanwhile said that Lotto-Dstny will now have to adjust their plans in Vermeersch’s absence.
“It’s a huge shame for Florian, but also for the team. Just like me, Florian was also a leader in the spring. We still have a good classic team, but we will miss him very much and now have to change our plans a bit.”
According to the team’s social media, Vermeersch will undergo surgery today in Murcia.
🇪🇸 #VueltaRM24 We wish you a speedy recovery, @FlorianVermeers! pic.twitter.com/LpJqMOJ4GQFebruary 10, 2024