Olympic contender Van Aert breaks collarbone, ribs

Belgian cyclist Wout van Aert, the reigning Olympic road race silver medallist, crashed during the Dwars door Vlaanderen race, fracturing his collarbone along with several ribs.

The leader of the Visma-Lease a Bike team crashed in Belgium on Wednesday, just ahead of the climb of Berg ten Houte.

Biniam Girmay, of Intermarche-Wanty, and Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven, of Lidl-Trek, were also involved.

Van Aert was helped onto a stretcher and taken to the medical tent for X-rays, which revealed the extent of his injuries.

"It is unclear how long his recovery will take," the Visma team said.

"Van Aert will definitely miss the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the Amstel Gold Race."

Stuyven also appeared to hurt his collarbone in the crash, but Pedersen and Girmay did not seem to have major injuries.

Van Aert's teammate, Matteo Jorgenson, went on to win Dwars door Vlaanderen with a solo attack from a breakaway.

Jasper Stuyven
Jasper Stuyven was also hurt in the crash. (AP PHOTO)

Van Aert is widely considered one of the world's best and most versatile riders.

The three-time cyclo-cross world champion is also the winner of 10 stages and the points classification at the Tour de France.

The maximum number of four Belgian riders have qualified for the road race at the Paris Olympics, and two of those will take part in the time trial.

Van Aert was planning to skip the Tour de France, which ends just before the Games, to be fresher for the Olympics.

He had planned to race the Giro d'Italia in May, though those plans are  in doubt after his crash.

At the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Van Aert took silver in the road race behind Ecuador's Richard Carapaz.