Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Froome's Despair ASTOUR Defence Ends in Agony

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Froome's Despair ASTOUR Defence Ends in Agony

Article excerpt

CHRIS Froome revealed his despair after the his Tour de France title defence ended on Wednesday's cobbled fifth stage following three crashes in two days. After the second of two crashes on the route from Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hinaut, Froome withdrew to the Team Sky support car.

Froome wrote on Twitter: "Devastated to have to withdraw from this years TDF. Injured wrist and tough conditions made controlling my bike near to impossible.

"Thanks to the team & support staff for trying to get me through today. Wishing @richie-porte & @ TeamSky the best for the rest of Tour!" It has been reported Froome began the stage with a fractured left wrist, suffered when the 29-year-old Briton tumbled to the tarmac on Tuesday's fourth stage.

The stage commemorated 100 years since the start of World War One and features many of the cobbles used in the Paris-Roubaix oneday race 'the Hell of the North'.

Torrential rain and wet roads only served to make the fifth stage more challenging.

Race organisers removed two of the nine cobbled sections because of the conditions, but Froome's falls came prior even to the first section of cobbles he had been dreading since the route was announced last autumn.

The sad sight of Froome, dominant in winning the 2013 Tour, grimacing by the roadside was reminiscent of Sir Bradley Wiggins' withdrawal with a broken collarbone in the first week of the 2011 Tour.

Froome crashed early on the route before a second crash with around 70 kilometres remaining saw him end his defence.

He consulted Team Sky doctor Alan Farrell and sports director Nicolas Portal before taking his place in the back of the Team Sky car.

Despite the atrocious conditions, which made for an epic day's racing won by Lars Boom (Belkin), Froome was the only withdrawal as the peloton fell to 193 riders.

Just two of those left are Britons - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) - after Froome joined Mark Cavendish in exiting the Tour. Thomas played a key role in supporting Richie Porte's challenge, with the Australian inheriting the lead role from Froome within Sky. …

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