REIMS France (Reuters) - Australian Richie Porte’s new Tour de France challenge as Team Sky leader suffered an early setback when team mate Xabier Zandio crashed out of the race during Thursday’s sixth stage.
Spaniard Zandio, whose job was to support Porte in the mountains, fell off his bike 78 km from the finish in the 194-km ride from Arras.
Race radio said he was out of the race.
Porte, who is eighth overall one minute and 54 seconds behind leader Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, was promoted Team Sky leader after defending champion Chris Froome of Britain pulled out injured on Wednesday after three falls in two days.
Spain’s Jesus Hernandez, one of Alberto Contador’s domestiques, also fell and abandoned the race, organizers said.
Others caught up in the crash were Belgian overall contender Jurgen van den Broeck, green jersey holder Peter Sagan of Slovakia and French champion Arnaud Demare. All three made it back into the peloton.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Alan Baldwin