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Australia's Ewan out of Tour de France after crash

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28th June, 2021
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Australian cycling star Caleb Ewan has been forced to abandon the Tour de France with a fractured collarbone after a high-speed crash.

The sprinter considered to be the fastest in the peloton was in contention to win the third stage on Monday when he appeared to clip Tim Merlier’s bike and his front wheel slipped from under him on the final turn of the sprint finish in Pontivy.

After lying stricken in the road – he also brought down another top rider Peter Sagan with him – Ewan, known as “Pocket Rocket” for his prodigious turns of speed, was treated in an ambulance.

But his Belgian team Lotto Soudal reported soon after the race: “We have an unfortunate update… following the crash, Caleb is forced to leave the race due to a right collarbone fracture.”

It is the end of the 26-year-old’s dream of winning a stage in all three grand tours this year after he had begun his campaign with two brilliant wins at the Giro d’Italia.

Belgian Merlier went on to win the stage – but there had been more drama earlier as several other top contenders for the overall race win hit the ground during another crash-marred day.

Merlier won ahead of his Alpecin-Fenix teammate Jasper Philipsen and Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni.

Mathieu van der Poel rode safely at the front throughout the day and escaped unscathed to keep the yellow jersey he earned on Sunday.

The narrow roads in the stage finale took a toll on many competitors who crashed as the peloton rode at full speed.

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Last year’s runner-up, Primoz Roglic, went down about nine kilometres from the end.

Roglic immediately got back on his bike but lost ground to his main rivals as his Jumbo-Visma teammates tried to pace him back to the peloton.

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar was slowed a few kilometres further down the road following another crash but it was unclear whether he crashed.

Earlier, former Tour champion Geraint Thomas hit the tarmac but managed to keep on racing and was paced back to the peloton.

The Ineos-Grenadiers leader fell off his bike and hit the ground hard with about 145 kilometres left.

The 2018 champion sat on the road for a while clutching his right shoulder and grimacing in pain as he was tended to by the race doctor. It looked like he would retire but ultimately got back on his bike.

Tour organisers said the peloton was riding at 43 kph when the crash took place.

Robert Gesink, a teammate of last-year’s runner-up Primoz Roglic, also fell and was forced to abandon.

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With his racing kit lacerated, Thomas struggled at the back. Teammate Luke Rowe waited for him and the Welsh pair lagged two-and-a-half minutes behind the main pack.

With the help of more teammates they eventually caught the peloton after Thomas changed his bike.

Thomas was 20th overall before the start of the stage, 41 seconds behind race leader Mathieu van der Poel. He predicted “a stressful day” because of the bad weather conditions.

The race started in the rain in Lorient and a group of five riders surged ahead immediately.

Behind, the peloton rode at a pedestrian pace and riders were accompanied by scattered showers making the roads slippery and dangerous.

© AAP

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