Team Sky lost a key mountain domestique today when Kanstantsin Siutsou crashed and broke his left Tibia.

Belarusian Siutsou has been an indispensable team mate of Wiggins this season. He is a crucial part of the climbing group that has been with the British team leader not only at Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné but on the altitude training camps on Tenerife.

Team Sky boss David Brailsford played down the significance of the loss at the finish in Boulogne-sur-Mer, saying, “It’s a setback, but it’s not a devastating setback.”

“[He is a] classic domestique [for the] medium mountains,” Brailsford explained to a number of journalists at the bus. “He’s a guy that can go back and fetch bottles and work hard all day, but he’s a very good climber. So he can do that first couple of mountains in the key mountain stages.”

With such a strong climbing team in the Tour – including Michael Rogers, Richie Porte and Chris Froome – Brailsford explained that Sky and Wiggins would be okay. “It’s a real shame, but not the end of the world.”

The weight will be even more felt on the seven remaining support men, including Mark Cavendish. “It’s like anything else, it’s a game of allocations of resources. You have your resources and you use them accordingly, and will probably shift a couple of things in light of it. The main thing is to get back and re-group tonight,” Brailsford continued.

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Cavendish is “one of the best team-mates you could have, that’s for sure. I’m serious about that. You have to give it to him, what he did yesterday was unbelievable, but he is a phenomenal team-mate.”

Asked if he’d be fetching water bottles, Brailsford added, “I wouldn’t put it past him.”

Siutsou crashed around 50 kilometres remaining in part of a large pile up. Brailsford said he injured his lower leg, likely his ankle or calf.

“It’s a bit hectic at points. One minute all is calm, the next minute all hell is let loose. It’s a little bit nerve-racking,” Yates said of the day, which saw numerous other crashes with Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) and Janez Brajkovic (Astana) also going down.

Yates added, “That was a major blow. [Siutsou] is an integral part of the team. If we have the yellow jersey we need to defend it, but we’ve got a lot of strong guys. We just have to deal with it.”

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Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second

Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials
CW’s Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber

Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce

Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule

Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule

Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever