The rider most favored to win the 2014 Tour de France, Team Sky rider Chris Froome, is out of the Tour after crashing twice in the same stage.
Having gone down in a crash during Stage Four and being treated on the road for cuts and scrapes, Froome was going into the fifth stage from Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut already riding cautiously. Once it became clear he’d have to ride the cobblestone stage in the pouring rain, the danger multiplied.
Froome slid out once on the slick, rainy roads, and then once again after losing road grip in a turn. As the team cars pulled up, Froome was seen limping on the side of the road, favoring his right leg. Team Sky mechanics began unloading bikes, making it seem as though he might rejoin. It was not to be though, as Froome climbed into the back seat of the support car, sealing his decision to abandon the Tour.
This is a huge moment in this year’s Tour. The sprinting favorite Mark Cavendish‘s choice to abandon following a crash in Stage One changed the competition for the Points Leader jersey, but for Froome to exit affects the General Classification in a huge way.
The early prediction was for Froome to battle it out with Tinkoff-Saxo team leader and former champion Alberto Contador. Everyone has waited to see how the two would handle each other in the mountain stages, especially without having to worry about Nairo Quintana, who was left off of the Movistar roster. This changes everything now that Contador has no idea who his main threat is.
This does not give Contador a blank ticket to Paris by any means. Riders like Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan have been riding out of their minds and pose a serious GC threat. On top of that, Contador has not been himself since his one-year ban for doping. He’s improved immensely this season, but is still relatively untested.
What holds true is that Froome is out. Whether or not Team Sky can bump lieutenant Richie Porte into Froome’s role — as Froome did after Bradley Wiggins‘ injury — will determine their team success.
As far as the GC standings go, it’s Contador’s to lose at this point.