Tour de France - Wiggins crashes out of Tour
Fri, 08 Jul 16:26:00 2011
Bradley Wiggins's Tour de France came to a brutal end as he was forced to abandon the race after breaking his collarbone in a multiple pile-up 40 kilometres from the end of the seventh stage.
With some 40 kilometres left in the seventh stage from Le Mans Wiggins fell off his bike and appeared in obvious pain as he held his left arm before leaving the scene in an ambulance.
Team Sky later confirmed that the rider had broken his left collar-bone.
Wiggins's crash came just one day after Team Sky snatched their first victory on the Tour when Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen won the sixth stage.
The British champion came to the race in great form, having won the prestigious Criterium du Dauphine, a pre Tour warm-up event last month.
"It's obviously a devastating day for the team. He was in great shape, he put so much work into this Tour," said Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford, adding that "things change very quickly and that's what happened today."
Brailsford later made a further statement expressing his sorrow at the incident.
"It is hugely disappointing news for him, and for the team. Bradley has been in the best shape of his life and worked exceptionally hard to be ready for this year's Tour de France. We were in no doubt as to the form he was in," he said.
"Brad was climbing with the best climbers, time trialling with the best time triallers and once the race hit the mountains we were very confident that he was going to challenge for the overall.
"Unfortunately crashes happen in bike races. Our priority now as a team is to regroup and focus on the rest of this Tour. We still have eight world class riders in the team and they will be back out tomorrow, on the front foot and looking for more stage victories. There is still a lot of racing to be done between here and Paris."
Wiggins's team mate Geraint Thomas was not far from his leader when it all happened.
"Obviously we heard and we all sat up," the Welshman, who along with the other Sky riders came to a standstill, said.
It was all for nothing, however, as Wiggins could not get back on his bike, with his team mates forced to chase the peloton to limit the damage.
Thomas, Boasson Hagen and the five other Team Sky riders crossed the line with a 3:06 deficit -- a huge blow for the British outfit.
"It's just pretty disappointing for the team. We've got to put this behind us. At the end of the day it's sport," Thomas said. "He's gonna be okay, he's gonna be back next year."
Brailsford added: "You just keep on going don't you? You go after different objectives and different goals. That's the nature of our sport."
Thomas and Boasson Hagen are now expected to battle it out to add to the Norwegian's stage win.
The Tour has been marred by crashes this year, with three-times winner Alberto Contador also hitting the deck on Wednesday although the Spaniard escaped unscathed.Reuters