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CHATEAUROUX, France (VN) — Bradley Wiggins’s Tour de France dreams shattered Friday as he broke his collarbone in a crash on stage 7. A pileup with about 40km to go brought down Team Sky’s GC hope and many others. While most remounted, Wiggins retired from the race into an ambulance.
Wiggins finished fourth overall in the 2009 Tour de France. It was a surprise result to many — including himself, a 6-time Olympic track cycling medalist who specialized in the pursuit.
In 2010, he trained specifically for the Tour, but didn’t quite get the formula quite right, finishing 24th after losing time in the mountains. But this year, his trajectory seemed spot on with a mid-June victory at the Dauphiné Libéré.
“For Bradley it’s mega-disappointing,” said Sky director Sean Yates. “He has based his whole season on this. He just won Dauphiné, and he’s on the form of his life and had big aspirations. Everything was going to plan and then, boom! It’s a bit of a moment.”
In the moments after the crash, Team Sky riders quickly slowed down to find their man amongst the chaos.
“We sat up — me, Swifty, Gerrans — and loads of groups kept sprinting past,” said Geraint Thomas. “We were like, ‘Where’s Brad? Where’s Brad?’ And then it came over the radio that he had broken his collarbone.”
Yates said at least three Sky riders went down in the crash.
“There were three broken bikes — Rigaberto Uran, Bradley and Christian Knees,” he said, adding that the team’s Tour objectives must obviously be readjusted. Team Sky already notched a win on stage 6 with Edvald Boasson Hagen.
“The roles of each individual will change, and we will have to go hunting for stages,” Yates said. “We have one in the bag, and there are chances for more. We will have those with Rigaberto and Edvald. We know Rigaberto can pinpoint a couple of the climbing stages, and we can take it from there.”
As for Wiggins, it was on to the hospital.
Collarbones heal relatively quickly, though, and Yates says he could come round in time for the Vuelta a España.
“In my opinion he can do a grand tour each year,” Yates said. “So maybe he’ll come back for the Vuelta.”
In the meantime, Team Sky will be on the attack.
“It’s really disappointing for the team but we’ve got to put it behind us,” Thomas said. “It’s sport, at the end of the day. It happens. We’re just looking forward to the stages now, take it day by day, and just attack it. [Wiggins] is going to be okay. He’s broken his collarbone but he’ll go home and see his kids, his missus will look after him. He’ll be back. We’ve lost our GC contender, but there’s still two weeks to go. There’s a lot of bike racing to be had and we’ll just attack it every day now.”