Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) has abandoned the Tour de France after crashing on stage 17. The German sprinter came down in a multi-rider pile-up after around 20 kilometres of riding and injured his shoulder.
Kittel was leading the green jersey classification when he climbed off the bike. His departure puts Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) into the lead of the points competition. Matthews had already cut the lead down to just nine points after getting into the day's breakaway.
The crash involving Kittel occurred in the middle of the peloton on the run into the Col d'Ornon, the first climb of the day. Polka-dot jersey wearer Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) was also involved, as was Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) – who went tumbling into a field in the wreck.
It wasn't just Kittel that was damaged in the crash, but his equipment too. He had to wait a long time to receive a new bike, only to discover that his cleat was broken and he had to change his shoe. Eventually, he was able to carry on and was seen riding up the climb with an ice pack on his shoulder. With a little under 80 kilometres remaining, news filtered in that Kittel had climbed off the bike.
Kittel has been the most successful rider at this year's Tour de France, winning a total of five stages. He was favourite to take the stage into Paris on Sunday and perhaps Friday's sprint stage, too. He had built a substantial lead in the green jersey competition due to his success, although a huge effort from the Sunweb team on stage 16 had seen that dramatically reduced and Matthews had trimmed it down again on Sunday.
The German is the latest in a line of high-profile riders leaving the race due to one reason or another. Sprint rivals Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan departed after stage 4, the former with a broken shoulder blade and the latter after being disqualified for causing Cavendish's crash. GC rider Richie Porte left the race on stage 9 when he crashed heavily on the descent of the Mont du Chat. Quick-Step Floors has also lost Philippe Gilbert due to illness and Matteo Trentin after he missed the time cut on stage 9.
To subscribe to the Cyclingnews podcast, click here.