Chris Froome lost 14 minutes on the second day of the Volta a Catalunya.
The Brit was caught in a crash 35km from the line and was forced to wait for a bike change as the peloton pressed on, leaving him isolated.
Froome was involved in an off-camera collision with two Bora-Hansgrohe riders and suffered cuts and bruising to his right side.
The four-time Tour de France winner joined a small group of five other riders, including Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data) and Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team) who attempted to chase back on.
But Astana took advantage of Froome’s misfortune, driving the pace in the final 30km, as the gap to the chasing group extended to six minutes.
Eventually, Team Sky accepted the situation and hit the front of the race to protect Egan Bernal in the chaotic sprint, as the Colombian becomes their hope for the general classification.
The stage victory went to Sunweb’s Michael Matthews, who sailed to victory ahead of Alejandro Valverde.
Thomas De Gendt retained the overall race lead after taking almost three minutes in a solo breakaway on stage one.
Froome has started 2019 characteristically slow, having raced only at the Tour Colombia in February where he finished 91st on general classification.
He then pulled out of the UAE Tour, saying he had underestimated the impact of racing at altitude in Colombia.
Stage two of the Volta a Catalunya was only his eighth race day of the year, as he builds towards the Tour de France in July.
The 33-year-old is chasing a fifth Tour victory, which would put him in the elite club of riders who have achieved the same feat.
Egan Bernal will now carry Sky’s hopes of victory at the Volta a Catalunya, having won Paris-Nice earlier this month.
The race is the second time Froome and Bernal have raced together this season, after the Tour Colombia where the latter finished fourth overall.
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