Hincapie crashed out of Sunday's Paris-Roubaix in a day fraught with disaster for Discovery, which witnessed two of their racers get disqualified after finishing second and fourth for failing to stop at a downed train crossing.
The disqualification of Leif Hoste (finished second) and Vladimir Gusev (finished fourth) was harsh news for Lance Armstrong's former team, but the more lasting blow for Discovery is the loss of Hincapie.
CYCLING 2006 Ruta del Sol Hoste
Image credit: Imago
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The American was diagnosed with a fracture of about three centimetres between his collarbone and right shoulder on Sunday after he crashed head first when his handlebars came loose at the cobbled Mons-en-Pévèle within 50 kilometres of the race's finish.
Hincapie was scheduled to return to the United States on Monday to undergo an operation.
"We don't know yet how long Hincapie will be out of competition," team director Dirk Demol told Belgian media. "It is a severe injury, that's for sure."
TRAIN FROM HELL
Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara (CSC) ultimately won Sunday's trip through "The Hell of the North" with ease, but the controversy over second, third and fourth place went into its second day on Monday.
The train stop that disqualified Discovery riders Vladimir Gusev and Leif Hoste, as well as Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto), received fuel after race director Jean Marie Leblanc called the ruling "extremely severe."
"Everyone knew that Cancellara was increasing his lead and that the ones behind him would be fighting for second place," Leblanc said. "In these kinds of situations, I prefer the spirit rather than the rule itself to be applied - although that is certainly incorrect rules-wise.
"I think the decision is extremely severe."
Discovery was denied two top-five finishers because of the ruling that the three riders had illegally crossed a lowered train barrier 10 kilometres from the race's finish line.
World champion Tom Boonen was awarded second place, after he, Alessandro Ballan (third place), and Juan Antonio Flecha (fourth place) were forced to stop for the passing train.
"I think the rules should be open to interpretation," said Discovery sporting director Johan Bruyneel. "Especially after 250 kilometres and 25 cobbled sectors."
After the race Hoste, who was denied what would have been his second straight second-place finish at Paris-Roubaix, was furious.
"It's ridiculous," he said. "I knew that we made a mistake, but we didn't endanger anybody. And why didn't they tell us in the finale that we could stop riding?"
Belgium's Van Petegem took a more philosophical approach reported the Agence France Presse.
"I committed a grave error," was the 2003 winner's initial reaction . "The decision was fair, and I won't contest it."
CANCELLARA EYES YELLOW JERSEY
Fabian Cancellara wants to add more glory to his triumphant start to 2006 after winning the biggest race of his career in claiming Paris-Roubaix.
Cancellara has said that repeating his victory in the 2004 Tour de France prologue at this year's Grande Boucle on the first of July is his next objective.
Cancellara then plans to go on to support general classifications contender and CSC team-mate Ivan Basso.
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