Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) dislocated his shoulder in a nasty crash on Stage 3 at the Tour de France as his dreams of a second yellow jersey were thrown into serious doubt.
The Welshman took a tumble with 145km remaining on the trip from Lorient to Pontivy and appeared to be run over by Robert Gesink (Team Jumbo-Visma), who flew over his handlebars.
Thomas looked in serious discomfort as he was tended to on the tarmac by support staff, who popped his shoulder back in while his GC rivals disappeared down the road. Gesink was forced to abandon the race.
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“We don’t want to magnify the seriousness of these things but that’s exactly what you don’t want,” said Carlton Kirby on Eurosport commentary.
“He’s got previous I’m afraid and this does not look good. A shake of the head, that looks like this may well be end of proceedings.”
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Thomas eventually returned to his bike – albeit gingerly – and set about closing the gap with Luke Rowe dropping back to help his quest. The pair had the unenviable task of juggling a 2:30 gap with Thomas' medical needs, but they gamely pressed on and rejoined the main bunch with 125km remaining.
The 35-year-old is no stranger to early crashes at Grand Tours, having fractured his pelvis at last year's Giro d'Italia on Stage 3 and at the 2013 Tour. He also suffered a freak crash at the Tour de Romandie in May.
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Meanwhile, Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly insisted that a dislocated shoulder was an injury that could be overcome on the bike.
"It is something that's quite painful but it's something you can continue on with and go on in the race," said Kelly.
"It's certainly a lot better than breaking the collarbone, that's really difficult to continue [with]. To get out of the saddle with a broken collarbone is a very difficult one and we've seen Geraint doing that, so it's looking a lot better than we had suspected when he was sitting on the road immediately after the crash."
Thomas was named joint-leader for Ineos at the Tour alongside Richard Carapaz. Carapaz stayed out of trouble to move into third in the general classification, 31 seconds off leader Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). Thomas is 18th, 1:07 back.
"Geraint Thomas is going for an ultrasound now, having suffered a dislocated shoulder in his crash. It was put back in on the scene by the race doctors. A full update will follow later," said Ineos lead sport director Gabriel Rasch after Stage 3.
It is the latest incident in an action-packed start to the Tour which also saw an overzealous fan cause a huge crash during the first stage on Saturday.
A fan on the side of the road contrived to hit Tony Martin with a placard causing a huge pile-up, with Wout van Aert, Primoz Roglic (both Jumbo–Visma), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) and Marc Soler (Movistar) coming down hard.
The French police have opened an investigation and are looking for the fan, who held up a sign that read ALLEZ OPI-OMI! which roughly translates as COME ON GRANDDAD-GRANNY.
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