LIGHTNING struck twice for Tasmania's cycling Sulzbergers yesterday with Wes crashing out of a major European race a day after sister Grace did the same.
However, there was a silver lining for both with fellow Tasmanian Amy Cure claiming a stage win of France's Trophee d'Or and Wes's teammate Michael Matthews clinching a podium finish on stage four of the Vuelta a Espana.
Wes crashed in the 186-kilometre stage from Lain to Fisterra and despite valiantly carrying on to the finish learned afterwards that he had broken his collarbone and fractured his elbow.
``I was in a good position before the start of the climb,'' the 26-year-old said. ``A BMC rider in front of me almost hit the barrier. He tail-whipped his bike and braked heavily to avoid crashing.
``I dodged the barrier and was about to hit the BMC rider. Instead, I braked to avoid riding into him and went up and over my handlebars.''
ORICA-GreenEDGE teammate Leigh Howard helped Suzlberger get going and complete the stage but a subsequent hospital visit confirmed he would have to pull out of the three-week Grand Tour.
``I haven't broken anything before. It was painful, but I didn't want to give up if it wasn't broken. When I saw [the x-ray] I understood what had happened and that I wouldn't be starting tomorrow.
``I'm extremely disappointed. I had so much to offer the team at this Vuelta, and it has been my season objective to arrive here in top form.''
The crash followed similar misfortune across the Pyrenees in France where Grace had been forced to pull out of the Trophee d'Or with a season-ending broken leg.
Her AIS teammates were quick to dedicate Cure's stage five win to their Flowery Gully colleague.
The West Pine rider was the fastest in a sprint of seven riders in Baugy, winning the 106km penultimate stage in 2:32.22.
``It is difficult to explain what this means to everyone on the team,'' senior women's coach Martin Barras said.
``Grace's crash reminded everyone of the dangerous nature of what we all do while Amy's win makes it clear why we do this and how exhilarating sport can be!''
Cure, 20, moved up to seventh place overall and also leads the young rider classification with one hilly 88km stage to St Amand Montrond remaining.
Proving that he wasn't superstitious about things happening in threes, the third cycling Sulzberger sibling, Bernard, tweeted: ``Terrible news again this morning that @Wes_Sulzberger has broken his collarbone & @gksulzberger broken leg day before #getwellsoonhardnuts.''
It was a more successful Vuelta stage for Tasmania's other participant, Cameron Wurf, who took a couple of major turns on the front in support of his Cannondale team leader Ivan Basso.
``I was literally bouncing on my seat with excitement,'' Wurf said.
``I couldn't wait to unleash on the front of the bunch and feel all the adrenaline rush that comes with knowing you have a peloton full of the world's best riders tucked in behind you.
``I don't win races so my thrills and enjoyment come from the success of my teammates and moments like this, contributing to a big race.''