Froome out, Nibali in command after Tour mayhem
By Julien Pretot
ARENBERG PORTE DU HAINAUT France (Reuters) - Chaos and carnage rained down on the Tour de France on Wednesday as defending champion Chris Froome crashed out of the race on stage five and Italian Vincenzo Nibali seized control.
On a miserable wet day in northern France, Froome did not even make it to the notorious cobbled sections as his second fall of the day, following another painful spill on Tuesday, led to him quitting after less than a week of his attempted defense.
The batted and bruised Briton, who fell some 70km from the finish of the 152.5-km ride from Ypres in Belgium, hobbled around in clear pain before climbing into a Team Sky car.
"Obviously it's devastating for Chris and for the team. We knew it was going to be a tough race," Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford told reporter.
With crash after crash decimating the peloton, Italian Nibali powered away from Spain's Alberto Contador on the slippery cobbled sections, taking over two minutes on the Spaniard who, before the race, was regarded as the main threat to Froome's title defense.
The Astana rider, who took third place on stage won by Dutchman Lars Boom, now leads twice former champion Contador, who is 19th overall, by 2:37.
Boom is the first Dutchman to win a Tour stage since Pieter Weening in 2005.
"It was a really stressful day and a very hard race. I wasn't thinking of the yellow jersey," Nibali told reporters. Continued...