The New Zealander suffered a heavy crash on stage 4, some 100 kilometres from the finish line in Nancy. He got back on his bike and finished the stage, and indeed completed Wednesday’s stage 5 in the Vosges hills, but the pain in his chest only increased.
He went straight for an X-ray after finishing the stage in Colmar, and it emerged he had fractured two ribs.
“An initial observation following the stage indicated he had some rib pain and other contusions, but he would be able to line up on stage five. However, Patrick experienced severe pain during yesterday’s stage and was immediately taken for X-rays at the finish line. The X-rays revealed two fractures on both the seventh and eighth ribs on his left side,” said CCC Team’s chief medical officer, Max Testa.
“As is often the case with rib fractures, the pain increases in the second and third day following the crash and, although Patrick wanted to try and race on stage 6, this morning we collectively made the decision that he should stop racing in order to recover well and focus on his goals in the second part of the season.”
Bevin, the New Zealand time trial champion who won a stage at the Tour Down Under at the start of the season, felt he was in great shape and was disappointed to have to leave the race, though he agreed it was sensible to pull the plug.
“I fell on my left side and caught a wheel to the chest. I thought I had got away with it at the time and I didn’t have any trouble when I got back into the race - no skin off or anything like that. I thought it wasn’t too bad but as the stage wore on, it got worse. We did everything we could to minimize the pain but in yesterday’s stage it was getting even worse so we went straight to get X-rays after the stage, which confirmed the rib fractures,” he said.
“We gave it a night to see how it was but you take the advice of the medical team and that advice was to stop racing. I came out of the Tour de Suisse in great form and felt like I had done everything right. But, you have to take the emotion out of it, the fact that it is the Tour de France, and make a rational decision. Two fractured ribs are not going to get better overnight.”
Bevin will rest for two weeks before resuming training, and Testa expects a full recovery in four weeks.
His abandon is the first of the 2019 Tour de France, with several small crashes but nothing until now serious enough to take a rider out. 175 riders therefore start Thursday's stage from Mulhouse to the summit finish on La Planche des Belles Filles.