Belgian cyclist Tom Boonen won the one day classic Tour of Flanders for a record equalling third time on Sunday.
The 31-year-old – previously a winner in 2005 and 2006 – beat home Italian duo Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan in a sprint finish to the 255km race.
His task had been made easier when Switzerland’s Olympic time-trial champion and the winner of this race in 2010 Fabian Cancellara fell 62km from the finish and was later diagnosed to have broken his right collarbone in three places.
Cancellara, who was one of the pre-race favourites for the second one day classic of the season, will be transferred to a hospital in Baszel, Switzerland, where he will undergo an operation.
It brings a premature end to his classics season which had seen him highly favoured for both this race and the Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.
“I saw him fall, he was right beside me, and I all but went with him,” said French champion Sylvain Chavanel.
“There were water bottles all over the road. He flew through the air in impressive style. He was very unlucky.”
Boonen – who was aided by Chavanel in regulating the pace after the peloton regrouped with 39km to go – was left with just a group of 10 other riders after a crash after 221km had split the peloton.
Ballan made a break for it on the third climb and was joined by Pozzato and Boonen with 17km to go, with the trio gradually extending their lead over the remainder of the riders.
Boonen – who was world road race champion in 2005 and has won the Paris-Roubaix three times – was recording his eighth win of the season and third in 10 days.