Wout Poels (Team Sky) crashed out of Paris-Nice on Friday afternoon after missing a tight left hand bend on the 70kph descent of the Côte de la Colle sur Loup, seven kilometres from the finish of stage 6 in Vence. It was later confirmed the Dutch rider suffered a broken left collarbone, trauma to his chest and cuts on his left knee.
As Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) forced the pace on the steep descent from the top of the first category climb, Poels was in the string of overall contenders chasing him down, but failed to make it through a left-hand bend at the foot of the descent.
"I just couldn’t hold on in that corner anymore. I’d gone full into it. It's so disappointing because I had been feeling really, really good. But that's life sometimes," Poels said.
Overall race leader Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), riding close behind Poels, described the crash.
"It was on the last descent," Sanchez said. "Everyone was riding very fast, he was just in front of me and he missed the bend. It's a shame to lose him because he was one of the favourites for the race. I hope he makes a quick recovery."
Poels, who was the winner of the stage 4 individual time trial and was placed second overall, 15 seconds behind Sanchez, had responded easily to attacks on the climb and looked in good shape to challenge for the overall win in Paris-Nice. After the crash, he remained slumped against the wooden barriers and appeared to be in some pain.
The Dutchman, expected to ride in May's Giro d'Italia alongside Chris Froome, did not finish the stage and was taken to hospital in Saint Laurent du Var. It is the latest in a continuing series of dramas for Team Sky, who — if Chris Froome is to be subjected to a ban following his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol — may now have to rethink their plans for the Giro. Poels was expected to undergo scans and radiology into the evening.
"I'll make a plan now with the doctors about what to do with my collarbone. I had planned to have a period of rest after Paris-Nice anyway, so we will see," Poels said.
"At least I can take the TT win out of the race - that's something. Now hopefully Sergio [Henao] can finish it off for the team."