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Tour de France: Early crash may be costly for Chris Froome

By Matt McGeehan

Defending champion Chris Froome was hoping to avoid any lingering after effects of his fourth stage crash as Marcel Kittel claimed a hat-trick of Tour de France wins in Lille yesterday.

Kittel (Giant-Shimano) won a third stage victory from four attempts on the 163.5 kilometre stage from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, which began with drama as Froome crashed.

After negotiating three British stages unscathed, Froome tumbled 6km into French soil, tearing his shorts, suffering grazes to the left side he hurt in June's Criterium du Dauphine and damaging his wrist.

Froome visited the race doctor and required a splint on his wrist to finish the stage, and afterwards he was sent for a precautionary X-ray.

He will face a test on today's fifth stage, the 155.5km route from Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hinaut, which features nine cobbled sections totalling more than 15km.

Froome's team-mate Bernhard Eisel said: "He has a cast on his hand, but he feels okay and hopefully he just lost some skin.

"We didn't lose time today. Let's hope for the best."

Froome may not have lost time, but he dropped back from fifth to seventh in the overall rankings, behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Froome finished 42nd on the stage, while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was 24th to retain the race leader's yellow jersey.

The Team Sky leader's wobble could be significant over the cobbles, where punctures are common, as his team support car will be delayed in reaching him.

The forecast wet weather will make the cobbled stage even trickier for the peloton as the Tour commemorates 100 years since the start of World War One.

Belfast Telegraph

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