After his second crash, 83 kilometers into a rainy stage 5 of the Tour de France, Chris Froome (Sky) withdrew from the race.
Holding his right arm gingerly, the reigning Tour champion spoke with team staff briefly before slowly stepping into a Sky car, not even bothering to remove his helmet. This ends Froome’s effort to defend his Tour title.
His final crash happened prior to the first section of cobblestones. Froome also crashed the day before, during stage 4, and though he went for X-rays on his left wrist after the stage, Sky officials insisted that he was uninjured and ready to start stage 5.
Despite that reassurance, he began Wednesday’s stage with a brace on that wrist. After the race, Froome admitted on Twitter that the wrist injury was a factor during stage 5: “Devastated to have to withdraw from this year’s TDF. Injured wrist and tough conditions made controlling my bike near to impossible.”
The day’s weather was wet from the outset, prompting race organizers to shorten the stage. “We decided to cut two sectors: Mons-en-Pevele, which is very difficult, very bumpy, and the one which carries Marc Madiot’s name (at Beuvry-la-Foret),” said Tour director Thierry Gouvenou. “It’s a question of common sense, we didn’t want to throw the Tour de France peloton into these conditions, with the rain.”
The last time a defending champion was forced to abandon the Tour was 1980, when Bernard Hinault withdrew with an injured knee.
Now with its leader out of the Tour, Team Sky’s GC hopes rest with Richie Porte. “We’re very happy to have Richie up there in GC and the fight in the mountains lies ahead,” said team manager Dave Brailsford. “It’s not to be (Froome’s) year but in Richie Porte we’ve got a very capable guy who will now lead the team. I think like anything else, on a day like today when you have a setback, you’ve got to roll with it.”
Stay tuned for more updates on Froome’s status as information becomes available.