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.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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