Race leader Marianne Vos has been forced to abandon the 2019 Women’s Tour after a high-speed crash on stage three.
The former world champion took over the race lead when she won the bunch sprint at Kent Cyclopark on stage two.
But Vos’s time at the top of the standings was short lived, after she hit her head in a collision that happened as the peloton upped the speed for an intermediate sprint on day three.
The CCC-Liv rider said: “The speed went up in preparation for the second intermediate sprint. For me there was a fall because of a hole in the way. I could no longer avoid it. I fell hard on my head, and apart from cuts and scratches, I didn’t get much from it.
“I want to the hospital because the cut had to be stitched. Very unfortunate, I was quite upset by it because I was in such a good position.
“But even after a fall, the race continues. Unfortunately that is without me.”
Vos’s team-mates Jeanne Korevaar and Valerie Demey then left the race due to the collision and Trek-Segafredo’s Trixi Worrack was also forced to abandon after she was injured.
The crash happened around 65km into the 145.1km stage three of the Women’s Tour, from Henley-on-Thames to Blenheim Palace, as the race left Didcot.
Race officials enforced a neutralisation on the race after the crash, which was restarted shortly after.
Marianne Vos led the race by nine seconds over Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) at the start of the day.
The Dutchwoman had powered into the race lead with a peerless sprint on the Cyclopark stage, with Deignan trailing to finish in second.
News of Vos’s abandonment came not long after it emerged that Chris Froome had been forced to abandon the Critérium du Dauphiné due to a crash.
Froome fell during a recon of the individual time trial stage and was taken to hospital.