Race leader Tony Martin breaks collarbone in Tour de France
Race leader Tony Martin crashed at the end of stage six of the Tour de France on Thursday, breaking a collarbone and being forced out of the race.
An evening bulletin from the German’s Etixx-Quickstep team said he had a compound fracture and would be sent for surgery immediately.
He fell in the last kilometre, sending 2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali and other riders tumbling to the ground.
Regulations state that on a flat stage a rider held up in an incident in the final 3-km is credited with the same time as the winner, so Martin retained the overall lead, and wore the yellow jersey again.
Martin was helped to the finish by two team mates. On the podium he could only hold up the flowers with one hand as he saluted the crowd.
“I hope that it is just painful and not a really serious injury but I am not optimistic,” Martin said afterwards.
Among other casualties of the crash were Nibali, Colombian Nairo Quintana and American Tejay van Garderen.
While riders were helped to their feet Martin’s Etixx-Quick Step team mate Zdenek Stybar of the Czech Republic sprinted to victory in the 191.5-km leg from Abbeville to Le Havre.
Slovakian Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was second and France’s Bryan Coquard (Europcar) took third place.
Martin had been leading 2013 champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) of Britain by 12 seconds and Van Garderen (BMC Racing) by 25.
Froome narrowly escaped the carnage on Thursday, managing to keep his balance while Nibali leaned on him as he fell.
Spain’s Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) is eighth, 48 seconds behind, while Nibali (Astana) is 13th and 1:50 adrift. Quintana lies 17th, 2:08 off the pace.
Early in the day a break-away group of three drew away from the peloton before being caught on the approach to Le Havre.
One of the three is Eritrea’s Daniel Teklehaimanot, riding for Africa’s first team in the Tour de France MTN/Qhubeka.
Before being caught he was first over one of the summits, scoring a point to top the King of the Mountains table and don the polka-dot jersey, the first Eritrean to do so.
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