BRITAIN’S Chris Froome conceded he was “devastated” last night after a third damaging crash in just two days forced him to abandon his attempt to retain the Tour de France.
Two falls on stage five worsened pain in his wrist from Tuesday’s crash, leaving him unable to ride properly and fearing that the joint may be broken.
“I’m devastated to have to pull out of the race. It was the right thing to do after crashing again and I knew that I couldn’t carry on,” he said.
“I’m going to fly home and over the next few days I’ll go for some more scans on my wrist to find out exactly what injuries I’ve sustained.
“The X-ray [after Tuesday’s fall] didn’t show an obvious fracture and I wanted to race today, but clearly I was in pain and we put heavy strapping on the left wrist from the start. It’s too early to say for definite when I’ll be back on the bike.”
Froome pulled out before reaching the notorious cobbled stretches of the 152km stage to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, which was won by Dutchman Lars Boom, of Belkin. Italian Astana rider Vincenzo Nibali retained his two-second overall lead as most of his rivals lost time.
The 29-year-old had been hoping to become the first Briton to win successive Tours, having become only the second man from these shores to win the yellow jersey 12 months ago.
His withdrawal compounded a disastrous Tour for British riders, following sprinter Mark Cavendish’s dislocated shoulder.
Sir Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour in 2012 but was left out Team Sky’s line-up this year said: “It’s tough. I never like to see a great racer go down but Chris will be back.”
■ Saturday: Mark Cavendish misses out on win by crashing at end of first stage
■ Sunday: Cavendish abandons Tour and ruled out of Commonwealth Games as he needs shoulder operation
■ Tuesday: Chris Froome hurts wrist and suffers cuts and bruises to left leg and arm after crash early in fourth stage
■ Wednesday: Froome forced to quit Tour title defence after two more falls