Defending Tour de France champion Chris Froome became the second major casualty of this year’s race when he abandoned the race after a third crash in two days.
Following Mark Cavendish abandoning on Saturday after a crash and subsequent shoulder injury, Froome tumbled to the tarmac on Tuesday’s fourth stage, damaging his wrist and though it was reported he fractured it, he started the cobbled fifth stage from Ypres to Arenburg Porte du Hinaut yesterday, which took place in torrential rain and on very slick roads.
Froome crashed early on the route before a second crash 85-kilometres in saw him end his defence by taking his place in the back of the Team Sky car and on his official Twitter page he wrote: “Devastated to have to withdraw from this years TDF. Injured wrist and tough conditions made controlling my bike near to impossible.
“Thanks to the team & support staff for trying to get me through today. Wishing @richie_porte & @TeamSky the best for the rest of Tour!”
Team Principal Dave Brailsford said; “Obviously it’s devastating for Chris and for the team.
“We knew it was going to be a tough race. We really believed in Chris and his ability to win this race. But it’s not to be this year.
“I’m sure he’ll be back. It’s part of this sport, sometimes you get knocked down.
“He was fit to start, he was in pain, there’s no denying it. But the injury he sustained today was on the other side.
“In Richie Porte, we have a very capable, viable leader in the team.”
Despite the atrocious conditions, which made for an epic day’s racing won by Lars Boom (Belkin), Froome was the only withdrawal as the peloton was reduced to 193 riders.
Boom moved up to eighth overall, 1min 54secs behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who retained the yellow jersey with a third-placed finish.
Ireland’s Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) was one of many riders to hit the deck yesterday and his crash with 25 kilometres to go saw him lose almost 14 minutes, and he dropped down to 53rd overall, which rules him out of challenging for the overall.
However, his stated goal entering the race was to protect team leader Alberto Contador and though the Spaniard lost over two minutes and dropped to 19th overall, there’s still a long way to go — and crucially from his point of view, many more contenders lost a similar amount of time.
* First-year junior Michael O’Loughlin (Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers) gets Ireland’s European Junior/U23 Championships campaign underway today when he takes part in the 26.9km time-trial in Nyon, Switzerland.
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