Chris Froome’s hopes of winning a second consecutive Tour de France were dashed on Wednesday after he crashed out of the race in the fifth stage.
On a miserable, rain-sodden day in northern France, the Briton – who had already fallen earlier in the day – looked to be in great pain after crashing some 70 kilometres from the finish line.
The Team Sky rider could be seen holding his wrist and limping heavily as he climbed into a team vehicle after chatting to team doctor Alan Farrell and sports director Nicolas Portal.
Froome’s woes began on Tuesday, when he injured his wrist and bruised his left side during a fall in the fourth stage. He was nonetheless cleared to compete in the fifth stage on Wednesday – a 152.5-km ride from Ypres, Belgium, which features several treacherous cobbled sections.
Shortly after the start of the fifth stage, however, Froome took another tumble. Although the crash was not too bad and he was helped back into the main bunch by his Sky team mates, his second spill of the day proved one too many.
Dutchman Lars Boom went on to win the incident-packed fifth stage after Froome pulled out of the race.
The last time a reigning champion had been forced to abandon the Tour was in 1980 when Frenchman Bernard Hinault quit due to a knee injury.
Froome’s build-up to the race was hardly ideal after a heavy crash last month on the Criterium du Dauphine.
The 29-year-old is the second high-profile rider to quit this year’s Tour, after fellow Briton Mark Cavendish suffered a high-speed crash in Saturday’s opening stage bunch sprint in Harrogate.
Cavendish, winner of 25 Tour stages, underwent shoulder surgery on Wednesday as a result of the crash.
Organisers announced before the start that two of the nine cobbled sections had been removed from the stage because of the bad weather conditions but crashes still littered the route.
Triple stage winner Marcel Kittel of Germany and American Andrew Talansky also crashed although they both continued.
The Tour is now likely to turn into a duel between Italian Vincenzo Nibali, the yellow jersey holder, and former double champion Alberto Contador of Spain.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-07-09