Froome out, as grim day takes toll
Defending champion abandons after third crash in two days, while Contador loses time to rivals in torrid conditions
Agence France Presse and Reuters
Dutchman Lars Boom won the brutal fifth stage of the Tour de France yesterday as British defending champion Chris Froome pulled out after crashing twice.
Boom rode away from his rivals after 152.5km, from Ypres in Belgium to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, northern France, that included 13km of cobblestones over seven sections.
But the big winner of the day was yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, who came home in third and gained significant time. He finished just 17 seconds behind Boom, but more than two minutes ahead of most of his main rivals.
Only Australian Richie Porte, now the Team Sky leader in Froome's absence, kept his losses to within two minutes.
Two-time former winner Alberto Contador lost 2:37, Alejandro Valverde gave up 2:11 and American Andrew Talansky, the winner of last month's Criterium du Dauphine, rolled in 2:05 behind Nibali.
It was an incredible day of numerous crashes amid driving rain, but the most dramatic involved the champion and race favourite.
Froome had already gone down once on Tuesday and was wearing a splint to protect his injured left wrist.
He fell again 40 minutes into yesterday's stage, but when he crashed a second time an hour later, it was all over. The riders had not even reached the cobbles.
He appeared to have injured his right arm and climbed into a Sky team car, his race and title defence over.
Among the others who crashed on a hectic day were triple Paris-Roubaix champion Fabian Cancellara as well as overall contenders Tejay van Garderen, Alejandro Valverde and Jurgen van den Broeck.