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Cycling News and Opinion
July 9, 2014

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Chris Froome abandons 2014 Tour de France

After falling twice today, even before reaching the cobbles, the defending Tour de France champion has abandoned mid-way through stage five. Shortly before reaching the first pavé sector, Froome fell for a second time today and refused his mechanics' offer of a new bike. He climbed into the team car, abandoning the race.

I'm sure the second-guessing of the team's decision to leave Bradley Wiggins at home will get a bit warm now.

Chris Froome at the start of stage 1

Chris Froome at the start of stage one. Photo ©Sirotti

Quotes from Tour de France Stage Five

Lars Boom rode and won a brilliant stage, but his margin of victory was close. Only in the last hundred meters was he really sure of himself. "I heard in my ear that I had only 6 seconds. I also expected that men like Cancellara and Sagan were still to come. But in the last corner I was sure. Then everything comes along: tears, goose bumps. This is really huge." 

After Vincenzo Nibali stormed across Flanders and Northern France, several GC contenders found themselves with serious time losses.

Nibali himself was modest about his fabulous ride, "I didn't think I would distance Contador so much today. But I'll keep my feet on the ground. I want to remain quiet. It's still a long way away with lots of mountains and everybody has seen today that crashes can happen."

Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford was complimentary about Nibali, "You've got to say that when you see the way Nibali rode, it was very impressive... It's just unbelievable to ride away from Cancellara and Sagan on the cobbles."

Alberto Contador's Director Steven de Jongh had this to say: “Well, we lost about two and a half minutes to a very strong riding Nibali but we’re still confident. Alberto lost touch with the back wheel of Vincenzo and we simply couldn’t close the gap. Fortunately, Alberto didn’t crash at any point and he didn’t have any punctures and not having any crashes is very important concerning the rest of the race. We’re five days into the race. Alberto is in peak shape and better than he was in Dauphine and we’re going to do some hard mountain stages. So, we’re still absolutely confident but aware that there’s some hard work to be done in order to make it back to the top of the rankings,”

Contador released this statement:

“The most important thing was to save the day without falling.”

Alberto Contador finished the stage without falling on the cobbles, but lost time, especially against Nibali. For him it was “a very difficult day, in which I lost a lot of time....We have simply saved the day without falling, which is perhaps the most important. Still to come is our terrain”, said the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo after crossing the finish line.

In the last kilometers Contador suffered, “a problem with the bike. With so much mud small sprockets were [not usable] and I could not keep up. It was a difficult stage from the start, there was much danger. The [time] differences are big, but the Tour goes forward. And I want to thank my team, which has been tremendous.”

About Froome's abandonment, he said it was what could be expected “from a stage like this with the cobblestones. It is a nice show for television, but it presented a pretty big risk. Froome was the number one favorite to get the victory and is now out of the race. Of course I will feel sorry for him, because to prepare for the Tour requires many months of physical and psychological work and many sacrifices that you cannot see. If you have so many crashes and have to go home… I'm sorry for him and for the race, because it would have been a great spectacle in the mountains and in this year's Tour it will not happen.”

Finally he repeated the comments about Nibali's time gain, “Of course I wish we were on the same time or in front of him, but seeing how the situation was and how the cobbles were, I didn’t want to take more risk than necessary. I'd rather lose a minute than have a crash and, on the other hand, the Tour is all in front of us.”

Peter Sagan had this to say after is fourth place today, "Today it's a bittersweet result for me. Happy because I finished in the front, I didn't crash in a hellish stage and I took more points for the green jersey. On the other hand, I'm disappointed because I could have been with Boom, Nibali and Fuglsang, but before the second to last cobbled sector I was not in the front and lost the chance to go with them. We tried to close the gap but it was too late. Anyway, I would like to look ahead and think positive for other chances."