Already suffering a wrist injury, Team Sky's captain Chris Froome crashed hard twice more on stage 5 of the Tour de France, and the second blow was too much. He abandoned the race, and his defense of his title, and is now facing uncertainty over his injuries and when he will be able to get back to racing.
"I'm devastated to have to pull out of the race. It was the right thing to do after crashing again and I knew that I couldn't carry on," Froome said to TeamSky.com.
"I'm going to fly home tonight and over the next few days I'll go for some more scans on my wrist to find out exactly what injuries I've sustained."
Conflicting reports came during the stage as to whether or not Froome's wrist was fractured in his crash on stage 4. He started the day with bracing on his left wrist, but confirmed what had been announced yesterday, that the scans showed no clear fracture last night.
"Clearly I was in pain and we put heavy strapping on the left wrist from the start. It's too early to say for definite when I'll be back on the bike, I'm just going to concentrate on getting back to full fitness."
There are many small bones in the wrist and hand, and swelling can obscure fractures. The Team Sky doctor Alan Farrell said, "with the nature of the bones involved at the wrist, it was prudent to keep an open mind on any potential fracture that might not have been evident straight away."
The pain kept Froome from being able to control his bike, something that made an already hazardous, crash-riddle stage even more dangerous.
"Chris is bitterly disappointed but recognises that it was the right thing to do," Farrell said. "He will now return home and undergo more extensive investigations. We will treat him as appropriate for his injuries and hope to see him back on the bike in the very near future."
The team will now look to Australian Richie Porte to contend for the general classification. "They've shown they are ready to get behind Richie, who's in excellent form, and I would like to wish everyone all the best. I'll certainly be cheering them on," Froome said.
"I'd also like to thank all the fans who supported me and the team, especially those who cheered us on in the UK. It was truly memorable to race the Tour de France on British soil and those crowds and sounds are something that I will never forget."
Team principal David Brailsford said Froome may race in the Vuelta a España later this year.