Two-time Tour de France general classification contender Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) has withdrawn from this year's Tour after breaking his hand in a crash during the first seven kilometres of Stage 7.
The 30-year-old American, who twice finished fifth overall at the race, hit the road with Stage 1 winner Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) and managed to finish the stage bloodied, bruised and broken with a fractured left hand.
Rallied by team-mates Simon Clarke, Alberto Bettiol and Tanel Kangert, the 2012 Tour's best young rider bravely rode the remaining 223km to the Chalon-sur-Saône to finish 158th, 3 minutes 13 seconds adrift of bunch sprint winner Dylan Groenewgen (Jumbo-Visma).
“We never want to see a rider leave the Tour like this,” said team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “There is a huge amount of work that goes into the preparation for this race, no one wants to be there more than these riders do. After talking with Tejay, our doctor, and race directors this evening, we’re not only concerned about Tejay doing lasting damage to the fractured bone if he were to continue riding, but we are also concerned for the safety of others, too. Full use of your hand is important when racing alongside 180 riders.”
“We will miss having him in the team,” Vaughters added. “He has showed great form coming into the race. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he’ll be back racing again soon.”
Van Garderen's withdrawal prior to the Pyrenees and the Alps will most certainly affect team-mate and team leader Rigoberto Uran and last year's UCI Road Worlds bronze medallist Michael Woods, a fact not lost on the Tacoma, Washington native.
“All I’m thinking about now is the disappointment, less for myself and more for the team,” said van Garderen. “Rigo and Woods, they both have a big chance to podium, to win stages, even to win the whole damn Tour. I would have loved to have been a part of that, to contribute to that, but unfortunately, as all cyclists have become accustomed to saying, these things happen.”
In an unrelated incident later in the stage, Sunweb's Nicolas Roche also hit the pavement during a freak solo crash that completely baffled the 35-year-old Irishman.
"Absolutely no idea," claimed Roche when what caused the fall. “I was having a chat and the next thing was that it felt like the wheel looked up and I went flying over the handlebars.
“I looked to see if there was a rock or a hole in the ground. But there was nothing in the road, my hand didn’t slip," he continued. “Unfortunately we are also car number 20, so I was waiting a long time on the roadside waiting for the car to come.”