Italian cycling star to undergo surgery

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Italian cycling star Giovanni Visconti was to have surgery on Sunday night after suffering a broken leg in the Tour Down Under.


The 31-year-old Movistar rider suffered a compound fracture of the tibia bone in his right leg when he crashed out of the People’s Choice Classic.

German sprint ace Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) won the 50km street race, the curtain-raiser to the Tour.

Kittel beat compatriot Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) on the line, while rising Australian star Caleb Ewan (UniSA) continued to impress with third place in his WorldTour debut.

Australian sprinters Chris Sutton (Sky) and Graeme Brown (Belkin) were among several other riders who crashed during the race early on Sunday evening.

Visconti was the only rider forced to go to hospital because of his injuries.

The race announced in a release that Visconti would have surgery to have a rod put into the bone and he is expected to be in hospital for three to four days.

Visconti crashed into a barrier on lap six of the 25-lap, 50km race that featured the Tour Down Under field.

“It’s an unfortunate accident that sometimes happens in racing, but we’ll be providing all the support we can to Giovanni and his team as he recovers from his injuries,” race director Mike Turtur said.

Visconti is a three-time Italian road champion, most recently in 2011, and won two stages in last year’s Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy).

He is the second big international name forced out of this year’s race because of a crash.

Top French rider Thomas Voeckler had a training accident on Wednesday, only hours after arriving in Australia, and suffered a broken collarbone.

Lotto Belisol set up Greipel perfectly for the final sprint in Sunday’s race, which he had won for the last two years.

Greipel is a two-time winner of the Tour and has a record 14 stage wins at the event.

But this time Kittel, who won four Tour de France stages last year, timed his sprint perfectly and beat Greipel on the line.

While it was no surprise that Kittel and Greipel decided the win, Ewan’s third place was a stunning result.

Ewan, 19, is one of the biggest Australian cycling talents of the last decade.

He already has a contract with top Australian team Orica-GreenEDGE, starting in August.

Ewan is riding for the composite UniSA team at the Tour Down Under before he returns to under-23 competition for much of this season.

He won the under-23 criterium and the road race at last week’s Australian road championships.

“I’m actually a little bit frightened now – they’re amazing, those guys,” Ewan said of going up against Kittel and Greipel for the first time.

“I tried to kick and he (Kittel) was just riding away from me.

“Wow – it’s crazy.”

Asked why he felt frightened after such an impressive performance, Ewan said: “I have to (go against) them in a year and that’s the level that I’m going to be expected to sprint at.”

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