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VALENCE, France (VN) — The Tour de France “lost the show” with the departure of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), who crashed on the Alpe d’Huez Thursday and abandoned overnight.
An article from a fan seemed to catch Nibali’s handlebars and take down the four-time grand tour champion at 3.2 kilometers remaining. He fractured a vertebra and could not continue, leaving the Tour without one of the peloton’s most aggressive riders.
“I think he’s the only on who could have still done something with a crazy attack like he showed a couple of years ago in the Giro d’Italia. For sure we lost an attractive rider and it’s a shame for him to go home,” Trek-Segafredo sport director Steven De Jongh said. [related title=”More Tour de France news” align=”right” tag=”Tour-de-France”]
“We lost the show. Bardet, Quintana and Landa, they could still do something in the Pyrenees. But without Nibali, for sure we will lose some of the show.”
Nibali amazingly clawed back to within 13 seconds of his rivals at the Alpe d’Huez ski resort. He sat fourth overall at 2:37 behind Geraint Thomas (Sky) when he announced late Thursday night that he could no longer continue in the race he won in 2014.
“It’s a pity, because we would’ve seen a few good attacks from him,” explained Brian Holm, sport director at Quick-Step Floors.
“He’s a classy rider, he attacks uphill and he attacks downhill. If you ask Sky, they’d probably say they’re happy he’s out! Like, we’d say also!”
“His aggressive style of racing will be missed,” said Luke Roberts, sports director for Tom Dumoulin’s Sunweb team. “He would’ve been an important guy to shake up the GC, so without him it’s sort of neutralized. He was one more GC contender out of there and one contender who would’ve taken risks.”
Roberts and Dumoulin, third overall, would have welcomed Nibali’s help to overthrow team Sky with Thomas and Chris Froome.
“Sky has shown to be so strong, but if someone puts the pressure on, as Steven Kruijswijk did on the Alpe d’Huez stage, then you put Sky on the limit. The more guys who are willing to go out there and take risks, the more they can open the race up.”
Nibali won Milano-Sanremo this spring with an attack on the Poggio for a solo ride to Sanremo that has not been seen in years. He tried a similar move in the Tour of Flanders, which ultimately opened the door for Niki Terpstra’s solo win.
“I love Nibali, I think he has a great aggressive attacking style, so for him not to be in the race anymore makes it easier for those who are left. It has a massive impact,” Team Dimension Data general manager Doug Ryder said.
“He has that aggressive racing style. He always gets better and better, you see in other grand tours, he always gets better in the third week. So it has a massive impact in the way the race will be played out.”