Team BikeExchange started stage 13 of the Tour de France as one of the few teams left in the race to still have their full complement of eight riders but ended it in Carcassonne down two key climbers after Simon Yates and Lucas Hamilton were forced to abandon following a mid-stage crash.
The pair were caught up in a mass crash in the peloton 62 kilometres from the finish of the 219.9-kilometre stage, which also saw Roger Kluge (Lotto Soudal) forced to abandon. Their departure represents a big blow for the Australian squad, who can now only realistically look to Esteban Chaves as they search for a result in the upcoming Pyrenees.
"Two of our three climbers are out of the race and we're taking them to get assessed by our medical team," directeur sportif Matt White said after the stage but before there was news on the condition of the riders.
The team later said in a medical update that it was confirmed that Yates had trauma to his abdominal wall and was transferred to hospital in Carcassonne for CT scans, as a precaution, which showed no fractures or internal injuries. Hamilton suffered a right shoulder injury and X-rays showed an acromioclavicular joint dislocation.
"It's not the first time I've seen crashes before but it's not a good feeling when any of your riders go down," said White. "They remounted their bikes and tried to continue on, but it wasn't to be, and their injuries were enough to force them out of their race."
Yates, who finished sixth from the breakaway on stage 8 to Le Grand-Bornand, was one of the last riders to get going again after the crash, which also took down Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), and Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippo).
Around 15 kilometres of racing later, the news filtered through that he had abandoned, while Hamilton – who was making his Tour debut – left the race shortly afterwards.
The pair are set to ride the road race at the Olympic Games, which falls less than a week after the end of the Tour on July 24. White said that he hopes Yates and Hamilton are well enough to still be able to compete in Tokyo, which would represent an Olympic debut for both men.
"There'll be one room less tomorrow and two less people at dinner. It's disappointing," he said. "A lot of hard work has gone into this from the riders, from the staff.
"They're two athletes who are preparing for the Olympic Games, and for those guys to crash out of the race two or three weeks before the Olympics is pretty devastating for those guys. Fingers crossed they're OK and it doesn't affect their Olympic campaigns as well."
Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in 2019 after working freelance at pretty much everywhere in cycling media for seven years.
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