LE TOUQUET, France (AFP) – Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome suffered an early crash on Tuesday’s fourth stage, but was able to carry on.
The 29-year-old Briton was knocked over 5km into the stage after two riders touched in the peloton and one swerved into him, sending him down on his left side.
Television pictures showed the Team Sky leader with ripped shorts, grazes on his elbow and leg while he was seen shaking his left hand. He dropped back to the medical car for treatment, and was later wearing a wrist brace.
Race doctor Florence Pommerie told France Televisions that the champion’s wounds were superficial.
“They’re essentially a few scratches, but that’s got to hurt nevertheless. He also hurt his wrist, but we’ll have to wait and see how it goes,” he said.
The crash took down several other riders, including Dutch outsider for the overall victory Bauke Mollema, of Belkin.
The wrist injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Froome, one day before the Tour hits the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix.
After the stage, he went for X-rays on his left wrist. Sky team manager Dave Brailsford said Froome should be fine for the rest of the Tour.
“He fell, it’s clear to see, but his injuries are quite superficial,” said Brailsford. ”He felt well at the end but we’ll still take him for an X-ray to ensure he’s not got anything. I hope he’s fine.”
GC rival and race leader Vincenzo Nibali said Froome had told him he was okay.
“We knew almost straightaway about his fall. When he got back to the group I went up to him and asked how he was; he wasn’t in great spirits,” said the
Italian. Nibali acknowledged that it was an inopportune time to be nursing bumps and bruises with Wednesday’s cobbled fifth stage coming up.
“It’s not great for tomorrow, I don’t know if it will effect his day, you’d have to ask him to understand the seriousness of the fall today.”
Last month Froome also fell on his lefthand side at the Criterium du Dauphine. He had been leading that race until the sixth stage crash. He lost the lead to Spaniard Alberto Contador the next day and then cracked on the eighth and final stage, finishing more than five minutes behind the winner and dropping to 11th in the overall standings behind American champion Andrew Talansky.
It’s been a tricky year for Froome who also suffered a lower back problem earlier in the year that force him out of March’s Tirreno-Adriatico race while a respiratory infection kept him out of the Liège-Bastogne-Liege classic in April.