2008 World Champion suffers multiple fractures, a punctured lung and has emergency surgery to remove spleen after crash on mountain descent

Team BMC rider Alessandro Ballan suffered serious injuries yesterday in a training ride crash while descending the Coll de Rates on the penultimate day of the team's pre-Christmas training camp in Spain.

In statement published on the BMC website the Italian rider suffered fractures to his leg and rib, a punctured lung and most seriously of all an injury to his spleen.

The 2008 World Road Race Champion was coming down the Coll de Rates climb near Parcent toward the end of a four-hour training ride when he crashed at high speed. According to his team, after being taken to a local hospital by BMC Racing Team Dr. Dario Spinelli, Ballan was diagnosed with a mid-shaft, displaced fracture of his left femur, a fracture of his ninth rib and some abdominal trauma. "The broken rib actually made a small puncture in his lung," Dr. Testa said. "The first priority is the spleen injury – that is considered a medical emergency." Ballan was undergoing surgery to remove his spleen Thursday night and a decision on when and where his broken leg can be operated on will come at a later time, Dr. Testa said.

After visiting Ballan in hospital BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said:

"Of course his loss means a lot since Alessandro is one of our key riders for the classics," Lelangue said. "But most important right now is that he can recover and just get back to his normal process. We'll wait for all the medical information before even beginning to think about what could be his plan for coming back."

Given the extent of injuries it is highly unlikely that Ballan will be back in action before next summer a blow not only for the rider but also for his team. The Italian was BMC's most consistent rider in the 2012 Spring Classics finishing 3rd at Paris Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders - a race he won in 2007 and in the top 10 at Milan San Remo.

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.