CHRIS Froome’s bid for a second successive yellow jersey is over after the Briton abandoned stage five of the Tour de France yesterday.
The 2013 champion and favourite to win this year’s race crashed twice yesterday on the wet roads of northern France, having fallen off in the peloton the day before.
The pain he was in forced his abandonment on one of the most eventful, but dangerous stages for years, with Holland’s Lars Boom claiming the win in torrential rain.
Froome injured his wrist in Tuesday’s crash, and as a result struggled for a strong grip on the slick surface of the cobbled fifth stage from Ypres, in Belgium, to Arenberg Porte de Hinaut.
The Team Sky rider was dragged back to the main pack after his first crash but the difficult conditions led to a frenetic pace and a further tumble proved too much for Froome and he exited the Tour.
Froome later tweeted: “Devastated to have to withdraw from this years TDF. Injured wrist and tough conditions made controlling my bike near to impossible.”
Sir Bradley Wiggins, who was not selected by Team Sky for this year’s race because he was deemed an unsuitable domestique for Froome, offered his best wishes to a man with whom he has a chequered history. Wiggins himself crashed out of the 2011 Tour with a broken collarbone in the first week before responding to become the race’s first British winner a year later.
Wiggins, speaking via his agent, said: “It’s a tough day. I never like to see a great racer go down but Chris will be back.
“Today has shown how hard it is to win the Tour de France, but the team will have prepared for this and they’ll deal with it.”
Froome’s fate has led to further debate over Wiggins’s non-selection by Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford.
Three-time winner Greg LeMond had previously expressed his bafflement at Wiggins’s omission.
Eurosport ambassador LeMond said: “It’s unbelievable, it’s shocking and it comes back to those predictions that today was a danger. You have to respect the Tour and the risk.
“I haven’t seen anything in the first days that would have made any difference if Wiggins was included in the team.
“It’s tragic for Chris, for him to not be able to defend his title and have to leave the race in that way must be his worst nightmare.
“The roads look very slick and to have so many crashes leaves you shell-shocked, fearful and you can only take so much.
“If he had injured his wrist then it may have put a slight hesitation in his braking, which means you over-brake and in those conditions that is fatal.”
Richie Porte is likely to be Team Sky’s new leader, although Geraint Thomas – one of just two Britons left in the race alongside Simon Yates after Mark Cavendish crashed on the first stage into Harrogate – could also be given a chance to prove his potential.
Porte was dragged along in the latter part of the stage by Thomas and finished 20th, two minutes 11 seconds behind stage winner Boom (Belkin).
Porte is now eighth overall, 1min 54secs behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who retained the yellow jersey with a third-placed finish.