Tour de France debutant Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge) was mortified on Tuesday when he collided with the race's defending champion Chris Froome, resulting in the Sky captain's crash. However, the ever-polite Froome absolved the young Belgian of any blame.
The incident happened during Tuesday's stage from Le Touquet to Lille in the north of France, early in the stage and on flat, wide-open roads. Some movement near the front of the peloton resulted in Keukeleire shifting, taking out Froome's front wheel.
It was a very awkward situation as Keukeleire described in his Krant van West-Vlaanderen blog.
"A rider from Belkin wanted to go through a gap that wasn't there," Keukeleire stated. "He hit me and I was barely able to avoid the wheel ahead of me. Behind me was Froome and he touched my wheel and crashed."
"Immediately I thought, even though it wasn't my fault, 'Fuck, I took down the winner of last year's Tour de France,' but in the end he seems to come away with some minor scratches."
The Belkin-rider in question was not identified, but he'll surely regret the manoeuvre as his own team leader Bauke Mollema was caught up in a crash occurring near Froome's fall.
After the crash, both Mollema and Froome were able to get back in the peloton and Keukeleire went over to Froome to apologize. "He said it wasn't necessary because it wasn't my fault since the Belkin rider was to blame, although he appreciated the gesture."
Keukeleire was forced to switch bikes himself as Froome wrecked his derailleur. At the finish line in Lille the young Belgian tried to fulfil his lead-out job for team sprinter Michael Albasini and he went on to finish in nineteenth position.
Froome suffered bruises and abrasions, and had his wrist x-rayed. No fractures were found, but with a rough stage five over the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix on Wednesday, he is not in an ideal situation.