Down yesterday in a crash and a faller today on two other occasions, defending Tour de France champion Chris Froome has withdrawn from the race.
The Team Sky rider was already nursing a sore wrist after his stage four fall. Race doctor Florence Pommerie said after the stage that no fracture was visible in x-rays, but didn’t rule out the possibility that a bone had been damaged.
Although Froome was able to continue racing on today’s fifth stage, he hit the deck at Ledegem, approximately 35 kilometres after the start. He was paced back up to the peloton by his team-mates and also the Sky car. His next crash was a more significant one, with the Briton falling with just over 70 kilometres remaining.
He was quickly given a bike but decided not to continue; full details of his injuries are pending.
The crashes occurred on wet roads but took place before the race’s cobblestone sectors.
Other general classification contenders such as Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) have also fallen during the stage, but these have been able to continue.
Other general classification contenders such as Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) have also fallen, but these have been able to continue.
Leadership of the Sky team will now shift across to the Australian Richie Porte, a past winner of races such as Paris-Nice. His season has been a shaky one, however, with illnesses forcing him out of Tirreno Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie.
Today’s accident will reawaken debate about whether or not Bradley Wiggins should have been selected for Team Sky’s squad for the Tour. It is uncertain how the 2012 race winner would have fared; he was noticeably ill at ease on wet roads during last year’s Giro d’Italia.
Prior to the start of the Tour, former world number one and Eurosport cycling analyst Sean Kelly said that he felt Froome might have difficulty on the fifth stage. You can read Sean Kelly’s blog on CyclingTips here.