Heavy rain and cobbles combined to cause mayhem at the Tour de France today.
Chris Froome went down early in today’s stage and was pictured back on his bike with visible abrasions down one side.
— theScore (@theScore) July 8, 2014
But when he crashed a second time his defence of the title was over and for the first time since 1980 a defending champion was forced to abandon the tour.
He was not the only faller as the combination of driving rain and slick cobbles made for treacherous riding conditions.
Two-time Champion Alberto Contador had warned last night of the dangers ahead.
American Tejay van Garderen also had a heavy fall today when he was one of a number of riders to go down when going past a roundabout.
Multiple crash at roundabout as American Tejay van Garderen also falls
Another American Andrew Talansky also struggled with the conditions. He was unable to make a left turn and hit several spectators as he crashed.
Andrew Talansky crashes into spectators during stage 5
Both US riders were able to continue their race, as was German Marcel Kittel. The sprinter had won three of the four stages prior to today and was able to get back up quickly after losing control and crashing on a bend.
Yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali also struggled at times to stay on his bike as the rain continued to pour.
Vincenzo Nibali knocks over teammate as he struggles to stay on road
There had been nine sections of cobbles planned for today’s stage. The organisers cut two of those at the last minute because of the heavy rain, cutting almost 3k from the length of the stage. But it doesn't seem to be the cobbles that were the problem.
If you’re unable to watch today’s stage, let’s just say it’s raining a little bit. Lots of crashes and haven’t reached cobbles yet. #TDF— Deceuninck-QuickStep (@deceuninck_qst) July 9, 2014
Holland’s Lars Boom prevailed amid the carnage from the Ypres to Arenburg Porte du Hinaut stage which featured many of the cobbles used in the Paris-Roubaix one-day race ’the Hell of the North’.
Boom (Belkin) was in the day’s breakaway and proved the strongest over the cobbles on an epic day’s racing to win by 19 seconds from Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang.
It was a sensational ride from the Italian as he preserved his place in the leader’s yellow jersey, by two seconds from Fuglsang and 44 seconds from Peter Sagan (Cannondale).