TOUR de France 2013 winner Chris Froome has dropped out of this year’s race after falling twice on stage five from Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut.
He had been taken to hospital yesterday for a precautionary X-ray after crashing on the first European mainland stage, from Le Touquet to Lille.
However, he crashed out again in torrential rain after 85km and before reaching the first of the day’s treacherous cobbled sections.
Now, after Team Sky left 2012 winner Bradley Wiggins out of the squad for this year’s race, Froome’s teammates Briton Geraint Thomas and Australian Richie Porte could be the ones to take charge.
Thomas initially looked to be aiming to fill the gap when he quickly moved to the front of the peloton after Froome climbed into the team support car – but he then switched to working with Porte to sprint clear of the peloton to chase the breakaway group that included race leader Vincenzo Nibali.
Porte ended the day 1min54sec behind Nibali and Thomas was 2min16sec down. Lars Boom won the stage.
One of the other main British hopes, multiple stage winner Mark Cavendish, pulled out on the first day after crashing near the finish line in Harrogate.