There will not be a repeat winner in the 2014 Tour de France as defending champion Chris Froome has withdrawn due to injury.
After getting caught up in a crash during Tuesday's fourth stage, Froome once again crashed Wednesday in Stage 5, according to Team Sky:
Heartbreak for Chris Froome after another hard crash. He's climbing into the car and likely out of this year's. More to follow... #TDF— Team Sky (@TeamSky) July 9, 2014
Sky Sports Cycling later confirmed that Froome was out of the running:
Chris Froome climbs into the Team Sky car and is out of the Tour de France #TDF— Sky Sports Cycling (@SkyCycling) July 9, 2014
There was some thought that Froome would withdraw after Tuesday's crash, but he decided to keep going. Froome was excited to continue in the fifth stage but admitted that it would be tough due to a wrist ailment, per Sky Sports.
The bumps and scrapes are fine but I fell heavily on my wrist so I needed to get it checked out by the doctors. I'm really pleased that I have been cleared to race and I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike tomorrow.
The wrist is painful and it's certainly not ideal going into tomorrow's cobbled stage, but I have a great team around me and we will get through the next few days as best we can.
Who is now the 2014 Tour de France favorite?
Froome started Wednesday's stage in seventh position, just two seconds behind Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, the race's leader.
Unfortunately for Froome, the injury impacted his performance and he simply couldn't go any further in the wake of the second hard crash in as many days.
As devastating as it must be for Froome to drop out, it is also a big blow to British cycling fans.
Froome became a national hero when he won the Tour de France last year, and there were high expectations in terms of a potential repeat.
Disappointment is the best word to describe Froome's exit as many observers across social media expressed feelings of sorrow.
Sophie Smith of Cycling Weekly struggled seeing a great champion like Froome limp his way out of the race:
Defending Tour de France champion Chris Froome has, soaked and crash affected, climbed into a car and abandoned the race. Hard to watch.— Sophie Smith (@SophieSmith86) July 9, 2014
David Conn of The Guardian pointed out that Froome's injury seemed to be significant:
Sad sight seeing Chris Froome abandon the Tour de France in the rain and gloom; nasty crashes, looked in awful pain.— David Conn (@david_conn) July 9, 2014
It was going to take something big to end Froome's pursuit of a second Tour de France triumph, and it came in the form of a couple of brutal crashes. The 29-year-old star should have more chances to win the Tour de France moving forward, but this one has to sting.
Cycling is an under-the-radar sport in terms of danger, but Froome experienced the perils of it firsthand on Wednesday.
With Froome out of the picture, the focus now shifts toward other contenders. Nibali of Italy entered the fifth stage in first place and has to be considered the favorite after finishing third in the Tour de France in 2012.
Nibali also won the Giro d'Italia last year and finished second in the Vuelta a Espana. His resume is an impressive one, and Froome's exit opens the door for him to achieve his crowning moment.
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