A dream start to his first Grand Tour came to a nightmarish end during the mid-way point of the 27.2-kilometre individual time trial in Pau on Friday.
Three-time UCI cyclo-cross world champion Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) slid to the tarmac after the 24-year-old Belgian's leg brushed up against a barrier on a swooping right turn to end any hopes of finishing his Tour de France debut.
The Stage 10 winner had spent four days atop the youth classification in the white jersey, trailing only current race leader—and eventual Stage 13 winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep)—in yellow during that span after Jumbo-Visma won the team time trial on Stage 2.
Stage 13 of the Tour de France and Julian Alaphlippe delivers another surprise win. La Course took place in Pau too today with an incredible finish.
Van Aert was running second at the second time check, just 16 seconds behind Stage 8 winner and compatriot Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) when the crash occurred.
Clad in a tattered and torn national champion time trial jersey he won late last month, the recent two-time stage winner from the Critérium du Dauphiné, including the Stage 4 ITT, writhed in pain from what Jumbo-Visma initially claimed in post-race post on social media was a 'flesh wound' on his right upper leg, forcing Van Aert to abandon the race.
Van Aert was immediately treated by race medics on the scene before being rushed to the hospital for treatment.
“He was operated on by the surgeon," said the team's Head of Performance, Mathieu Heijboer. "He stitched the capsule and skin and cleaned everything well. He has to stay in the hospital for a few days.”