Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma) had already been involved in a fall 37km into the stage, with the Dutchman forced to abandon and the 2018 race winner needing medical assistance for a dislocated shoulder. He heads for an ultra-sound scan this evening.
That was only the beginning of another day dominated by falls, with Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) taken down inside the last 10km. The 2020 runner-up was forced into a frantic chase but, with his entire left side ripped to sheds, it was clear that he would lose time.
Despite a valiant effort from his team, the Slovenian lost 1:21 to the stage winner Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix). Jumbo-Visma DS Frans Maassen reported after the stage that Roglič was suffering pain in his coccyx/tailbone.
Roglič started the stage in third overall but dropped down the classification, with his GC hopes taking a major dent. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) were the only potential GC rivals in the front group but he still lost nearly a minute to Thomas and last year's winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
Pogačar himself was involved in a third major fall that took place on a downhill left-hand corner with 3.9km to go. The fall blocked the road for the majority of the bunch, with almost all of the main contenders held up as a result.
The UAE rider would eventually cross the line 26 seconds down in a group that contained Thomas and Rigoberto Urán.
The final crash occurred with the line in sight, when Peter Sagan and Caleb Ewan - both favourites for the stage - touched wheels. Both riders landed heavily and although Sagan was quickly back on his feet and able to ride on, Ewan needed further medical attention and has a suspected broken collarbone.
Editor in Chief - Cyclingnews.
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