CAP FREHEL, France (AFP) – Reigning champion Alberto Contador and fellow yellow jersey contenders Bradley Wiggins and Robert Gesink survived crashes to continue the fifth stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday.
Team Sky’s Wiggins, who was fourth overall in 2009, was among a bunch of riders caught up in a crash shortly before the halfway point of the 164.5km ride to Cap Frehel in northern Brittany.
He got back on his bike to continue the race, latching back on to the peloton shortly before a second spill took down several riders.
Moments after the sprinters in the chasing bunch had fought for the points at the intermediate sprint, Dutchman Gesink was left sprawling on the ground next to Rabobank teammate Carlos Barredo and Janez Brajkovic of RadioShack.
Despite complaining of their apparent injuries, both Rabobank riders got back on their bikes. Doctors attended to Brajkovic, but the young Slovenian abandoned due to his injuries.
Minutes later, Christophe Kern of Europcar pulled out of the Tour de France, apparently due to a pre-existing injury.
Kern, the newly crowned French time trial champion, who has been suffering from tendinitis in his left knee, stopped racing just after the halfway point of the stage.
Contador, the three-time champion who has had a disastrous start to the race so far, was then caught up in a spill — apparently without serious consequences.
After changing his bike, the Spaniard was given help by a teammate to get back into the peloton.