A bit of romanticism left the Tour de France on Wednesday when Kenny van Hummel, the race’s lanterne rouge, was forced to abandon after crashing out of the race.
The Skil-Shimano rider, who was sitting 3:35:54 behind the yellow jersey at the start of the stage, was dropped just four kilometres into today’s 169.5 kilometre test from Bourg Saint Maurice to Le Grand Bornand. He was forced to ride alone and crashed on the decent of the day's second category 1 climb, the Col des Saises. The 26-year-old was taken to hospital with a badly cut knee.
At the finish van Hummel’s director sportif Rudi Kemna said he was sad to see his sprinter miss out on his dream of racing on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. "It’s the end of a big adventure," Kemna said. "We tried to hold him the race but today it was really hard. It was like D-Day for us today with it being such a brutal stage."
Van Hummel had previously admitted to taking risks on the race’s descents in order to keep within the time limit but with today’s rain-soaked roads, he was playing a dangerous game. "I saw Menchov crash on a downhill and told the car following Kenny to be careful because it was really slippery. When he went down and we saw that his knee was open we knew that his race was over."
Van Hummel though will go down as one of the most iconic and likeable riders in this year’s race, often surviving stages by the skin of his teeth and riding hundreds of kilometres on his own. "I was thinking four days ago that it was his last day. He's a real fighter but he’s not a climber. He had no power left."
Yauheni Hutarovich (Française des Jeux) will start tomorrow’s stage as the new lanterne rouge. The Belarusian is 3:26:01 down on race leader Alberto Contador.