Chris Froome (Sky) has abandoned the Tour de France after suffering two crashes on stage 5 to Arenberg. The Briton fell after 35 kilometres without any consequences but he was forced to abandon with what appeared to be a wrist injury after a second crash just before the first sector of cobbles.
"Devastated to have to withdraw from this years TDF," Froome wrote on Twitter. "Injured wrist and tough conditions made controlling my bike near to impossible.
"Thanks to the team & support staff for trying to get me through today. Wishing Richie Porte and Team Sky the best for the rest of Tour!"
The stage was affected by heavy rainfall, which saw the race jury take the decision to cut two of the planned nine sectors of cobbles from the parcours, and the conditions contributed to a number of crashes during the frenetic first 90 kilometres of racing.
Froome’s first crash was at Ledegem, just 35 kilometres after the start in Ypres, but he was immediately back on his bike and was paced to the peloton by a gaggle of his Sky teammates.
In the ten kilometres before the first stretch of cobblestones at Gruson, Froome was marshalled towards the front end of the peloton by his teammates, although Vasil Kiryienka went down in a crash on a rain-slicked roundabout.
Shortly afterwards, with 68 kilometres remaining, Froome himself fell again. His second crash of the day – and his third of the Tour after a spill in the opening kilometres on stage 4 – spelt the end of his race.
Froome climbed gingerly to his feet but was doubled over with pain from what appeared to be a wrist injury. A Sky team car screeched to a halt behind him and a mechanic took Froome’s spare back down from the roof rack in the hope that the defending champion would be able to continue.
After a pause, Froome turned and climbed into the back seat of the team car, which brought him towards the finish in Arenberg, his Tour over before it had truly began.
More to follow