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Team Sky rider crashes twice today and abandons ahead of first cobbled section

Chris Froome, defending champion in the Tour de France, has abandoned the race. The Team Sky rider crashed heavily yesterday, sustaining injuries including one to his left wrist, and fell twice more today on rain-soaked roads in northern France on today's Stage 5 from Ypres to Arenberg-Porte de Hainaut.

After his second fall, which came as the peloton sped towards the first of seven cobbled sections on today's route, Froome looked in severe pain and was clearly in no position to get back on his bike, instead climbing into the team car, the defence of his title over.

It’s more than a decade since it last rained here on the day of the Queen of the Classics, held in April each year. The forecast for today, however, had been for heavy rain and that’s how it turned out, with organsisers deciding to cut two of the planned nine sectors of pave – neither of them among the more difficult, admittedly – ahead of the start this morning.

Froome’s defence of his title came to an end shortly before the Carrefour de l’Arbre, the first of the remaining seven sections. The 29-year-old had possibly fractured his left wrist yesterday – x-rays taken last evening proved inconclusive – and took to the start this morning with splints on both wrists and handlebars heavily strapped to try and soften the impact of the cobbles.

He never made it that far. Crashing early on as a result of rain-soaked roads, ripping the right-hand side of his bibshorts and losing his race number, 1, denoting his status as defending champion, he came down heavily again with around 60km of the 152.5km stage which crossed some of the key battlefields of World War I.

Following that conflict, when a journalist from l’Auto, the newspaper that organised Paris-Roubaix at the time, headed north from Paris in 1919 to see whether the race could be held again on the battle-ravaged landscape, he described it in one word – “l’Enfer” – thereby giving the race its other nickname, “l’Enfer du Nord” or “the Hell of the North.”

While today’s route had just seven cobbled sections compared to the 27 that feature in the Spring Classic, seldom in recent years has the one-day race lived up to that nickname as much as this afternoon in the Tour de France is turning out to be.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

81 comments

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 1 year ago
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Meanwhile, a guy who has won the tour AND did very well on the cobbles just a few months ago (admittedly he was lighter then) is sat at home twiddling his thumbs...

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Super Domestique [1596 posts] 1 year ago
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Gutted for Froome.

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Miles253 [198 posts] 1 year ago
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Shocking, must get home and watch highlights!

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Jacob [40 posts] 1 year ago
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Very surprised and can't imagine how that it's possible to crash that much (seriously bad luck). Can't help but think of Wiggo and how a great "2nd" choice he would be right now.

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Jimmy Ray Will [439 posts] 1 year ago
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On a personal level, and for British Cycling generally I am gutted for Froome, don't get me wrong, but karma... its a bitch innit?

To me this was kind of inevitable the moment Mr Brailsford took the decision to leave Wiggins at home... if it wasn't a fall, it might have been illness, mechanical whatever, leaving a perfectly good plan B at home was risky.

Also, Sky have had two tours where not only their A plan, but also their plan B has got through the event unscathed, so simply playing the odds suggests that this was a more likely even this year.

A real shame, I hope Mr Froome recovers quickly and can tear the backside out of the Vuelta as I can't see Wiggins going for it.

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Winnie90 [4 posts] 1 year ago
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A great shame that he will be missing in the mountains, though I expect to see a great battle between Contador and Nibali all the same. I'm still certain that if Wiggins was in the team as a super domestique/back up he may well have excelled at the cobbles but I couldn't see him keeping up with the other GC riders without Froome this time round to tow him, that's not to suggest he isn't a very good climber he just doesn't have that natural acceleration to attack. It will be interesting to see if Sky now have a crack at stage wins and let some of those riders used to riding in a very rigid domestique role giving a chance to have a go, Bernie and Thomas could have a go today.

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Parkaboy [13 posts] 1 year ago
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I can't help remembering how bad Wiggins was in similar conditions in the Giro and off the back in Florence. Maybe they don't ride in the rain enough?

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andyp [1436 posts] 1 year ago
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Fantastic news. Shame Wiggo wasn't around to help Sir Dave out. What a ridiculous decision.

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daddyELVIS [654 posts] 1 year ago
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Who will step up - Porte or Thomas? - have either got French dual-citizenship, haha! Got a pic of Thomas as he sped past at top of Holme Moss, he looks super-skinny!!
Froome hasn't been able to stay upright since Jose Brailsford said he could win the Tour with a Frenchman on a grocers bike!

Come on Bertie!

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Super Domestique [1596 posts] 1 year ago
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Surely plan B is Porte??

Anyway, I hope Bernie or G can go for the stage today!

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madhouse [52 posts] 1 year ago
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There's always going to be people who will say 'ahhhh, that Wiggo decision ain't looking that great now is it?' but they wouldn't have been as vocal of how good the decision was if Froome had been fine and defended his title. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but at the end of the day Dave B made the decision and I expect he'd probably still defend it even now.

It's a shame Froome's out, more a victim of weather than cobbles (he'd not got to them yet), it's been carnage so far with fallers everywhere.

Hope he recovers well and is back on the bike soon.

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ratattat [52 posts] 1 year ago
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Oh no I'm gutted for him .. Crash Froome the return

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stevebull-01 [63 posts] 1 year ago
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Really bad news. Unlucky Froome. Still don't think wiggo would have been the saviour of sky if he was there though.

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rdanderson [5 posts] 1 year ago
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notfastenough wrote:

Meanwhile, a guy who has won the tour AND did very well on the cobbles just a few months ago (admittedly he was lighter then) is sat at home twiddling his thumbs...

And....? This gives Richie Porte a great chance to take a victory, something he richly deserves, and remain in Team sky. I am not the greatest Wiggins fan for sure but I do admire his talent as much as I hate his attitude but either way this TDF is not made for Wiggins with some big mountains and one time trial stage. He would never win.

Would be great to see Richie Porte take a win really.

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7thGalaxy [44 posts] 1 year ago
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That's all very well - but a lot of people predicted exactly this. Wiggin's' experience on the cobbles could have helped calm the team down, and maybe he would have had a bit more presence in the peloton.

Froome's suffered from being out of position a lot - compare contador, whose team keeps him right out of trouble at the front, Froome always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time - as much by judgement as luck? He doesn't seem to like riding in the peloton.

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stumps [3184 posts] 1 year ago
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cant believe people are having a pop at Froome. Wiggins this, wiggins that....Froome fell twice before the cobbles so what difference would it make having a cobbles man in the team - none and Wiggins is not in the same class as Froome, Nibali, Contador etc etc.

I hope he makes a full recovery and kicks everyones arse in the Vuelta.

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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The grumbling suspicions were that Froome drove the decision to bin Wiggins off this years tour, what comes after pride again?

The team should have been built for Froome to fight for GC, but Wiggins should have been in for days like today, as mentioned above a lot of other GC contenders looked far more comfortable, Froome was always going to be jittery, hence he needed extra protection.

I know some are going to think that it's easy to be wise after the event but I've been saying exactly this for ages and I'm not alone. The overwhelming response has always been "Well, Brailsford knows what he is doing", and I am not going to dispute that, but he's still human, he can make mistakes and I always thought this was glaring mistake. Was I right? Possibly, but I'm not as naive as to not fully understand that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

In my view, bringing Wiggins would have been a better plan B than Porte and it would have been better PR for the team. I honestly can't see Porte getting on or anywhere near the podium, not that I am suggesting Wiggins would be guaranteed a 'step'.

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Must be Mad [487 posts] 1 year ago
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Well, well, well
It was debated and debated on the internet....
and in the end, the internet armchair experts called it right.

Sky would have been OK if they had won... but now - we have to look at who they left on the bench and ask questions.

Of course - on the flip side, Wiggo rarely goes well in the wet either - and I suspect the decision to leave him at home was only partly to do with Froome, but more to do with the form of Contador (as in, Wiggo was not the right 'plan B')

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Shades [285 posts] 1 year ago
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The British summer of sporting misery gets worse  20 2 years ago we were full of ourselves; even coming up with reasons why the Aussies were so bad at sport. Oh well, 'it's only a game'. Take note Brazil, you'll get over it  21

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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Must be Mad wrote:

Of course - on the flip side, Wiggo rarely goes well in the wet either

I've seen people repeating this on various social media platforms as truth and fact, as though Wiggins is actually part Mogwai who mustn't be allowed to get wet or something.

I'd bet my left bollock to London that if you can become a National Champion in the wet, you must be doing something pretty damn well.

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stevebull-01 [63 posts] 1 year ago
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stumps wrote:

cant believe people are having a pop at Froome. Wiggins this, wiggins that....Froome fell twice before the cobbles so what difference would it make having a cobbles man in the team - none and Wiggins is not in the same class as Froome, Nibali, Contador etc etc.

I hope he makes a full recovery and kicks everyones arse in the Vuelta.

Well said.

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daddyELVIS [654 posts] 1 year ago
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farrell wrote:

I honestly can't see Porte getting on or anywhere near the podium, not that I am suggesting Wiggins would be guaranteed a 'step'.

I make you right there. However today's stage is really shaking things up, with Porte putting big time into Contador at the moment!! Can't wait to see this stage. If Porte podiums in Paris, big questions will be asked of Sky!

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7thGalaxy [44 posts] 1 year ago
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stumps wrote:

cant believe people are having a pop at Froome. Wiggins this, wiggins that....Froome fell twice before the cobbles so what difference would it make having a cobbles man in the team - none and Wiggins is not in the same class as Froome, Nibali, Contador etc etc.

Wiggins out time trialed all of these riders.. what do you mean by 'not in the same class?'

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McVittees [48 posts] 1 year ago
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Right, time for Froome to get on with preparation for the Vuelta a Espana!  16

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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McVittees wrote:

Right, time for Froome to get on with preparation for the Vuelta a Espana!  16

A straight punch up between him and Quintana?

Yes please!

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stumps [3184 posts] 1 year ago
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7thGalaxy wrote:
stumps wrote:

cant believe people are having a pop at Froome. Wiggins this, wiggins that....Froome fell twice before the cobbles so what difference would it make having a cobbles man in the team - none and Wiggins is not in the same class as Froome, Nibali, Contador etc etc.

Wiggins out time trialed all of these riders.. what do you mean by 'not in the same class?'

Wiggins is a brilliant TT rider but he cant keep up with the likes of Froome et al in the mountains and when he won the tour in 2012 he had Froome to help him, Berti was banned (i think) and Nibs was well out of form. Nibs was third overall 6 min + behind but 5 mins 45 was from the 2 TT's.

So he won the tour of cali but was dropped on the big climb by riders who are not even in the same class as the big GC boys. People need to get real and accept that Wiggins, although still a good rider, is not GC material for a GT.

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chiv30 [986 posts] 1 year ago
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7thGalaxy wrote:
stumps wrote:

cant believe people are having a pop at Froome. Wiggins this, wiggins that....Froome fell twice before the cobbles so what difference would it make having a cobbles man in the team - none and Wiggins is not in the same class as Froome, Nibali, Contador etc etc.

Wiggins out time trialed all of these riders.. what do you mean by 'not in the same class?'

I believe you answered your own question.... wiggo can only win GTs when he can put time into the above riders via a number of ITTs ....

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chiv30 [986 posts] 1 year ago
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stumps wrote:
7thGalaxy wrote:
stumps wrote:

cant believe people are having a pop at Froome. Wiggins this, wiggins that....Froome fell twice before the cobbles so what difference would it make having a cobbles man in the team - none and Wiggins is not in the same class as Froome, Nibali, Contador etc etc.

Wiggins out time trialed all of these riders.. what do you mean by 'not in the same class?'

Wiggins is a brilliant TT rider but he cant keep up with the likes of Froome et al in the mountains and when he won the tour in 2012 he had Froome to help him, Berti was banned (i think) and Nibs was well out of form. Nibs was third overall 6 min + behind but 5 mins 45 was from the 2 TT's.

So he won the tour of cali but was dropped on the big climb by riders who are not even in the same class as the big GC boys. People need to get real and accept that Wiggins, although still a good rider, is not GC material for a GT.

I'd give up fella ....I've had the exact argument and made the same points you just did with members of my club .....a lot of ppl have what I like to call Brad Blinkers it seems  102

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only1redders [54 posts] 1 year ago
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Given Wiggins' struggle in the Giro in 2013 and Froome all over the place today, do you think that Sky include bike handling as part of their 'marginal gains' drive?

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Jimmy Ray Will [439 posts] 1 year ago
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stumps wrote:

Wiggins is a brilliant TT rider but he cant keep up with the likes of Froome et al in the mountains and when he won the tour in 2012 he had Froome to help him, Berti was banned (i think) and Nibs was well out of form. Nibs was third overall 6 min + behind but 5 mins 45 was from the 2 TT's.

So he won the tour of cali but was dropped on the big climb by riders who are not even in the same class as the big GC boys. People need to get real and accept that Wiggins, although still a good rider, is not GC material for a GT.

Hmm, I contest this... you don't win the tour unless you are a GT contender. You don't finish 3rd in another tour de france and indeed a Vuelta unless you are a GT contender.

No one flukes a tour win.

Yes, you can say the stars align and you have a magic year that makes you a winner, but there are actually very very few tour winners, or indeed winners of GT's across the board, by doing so once, you are immedaitely a contender for other events.

I think we all accept that Wiggins is not as explosive or natural climber as other GT contenders... so what, he has demonstrated that this is merely a challenge that can be overcome.

I think your view of the tour of California is skewed. He got gapped at the top of a climb that he'd ridden at the front of for much of the climb... it was a mis-calculation. The rest of that race was won at a canter.

As for Froome pulling Wiggins up the climbs in 2012, I would encourage you to watch the footage again and see how much pulling he did.

Froome is clearly the better climber, but Wiggins is every bit a match for Nibali in the hills and I would be happy to put a fiver that our winner is Italian this year.

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