Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen crashed
in today's Tour de France stage in Tours, fracturing his right shoulder blade and forcing him to withdrawn from the race. Boasson Hagen's withdrawal means that the team's chance of winning the race with Chris Froome will take a serious hit.
"It's not ideal, but it's not the end of the world either," team principal, David Brailsford told journalists including Cycling Weekly before the fracture was confirmed. "We'll cross that bridge when we get there. Let's see how he is first."
After surviving an earlier crash unscathed, the Norwegian crashed again 2.6 kilometre from the finish of the 12th stage from Fougères, won by Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano). He got back on his bike and arrived to the bus nursing his right arm. After about 10 minutes, he stepped off and into a medic's van.
Doctors X-rayed Boasson Hagen and discovered the fracture of his right scapula (shoulder blade), and he will not continue in the race.
Brailsford explained that Sky could manage with only seven riders if it had to.
"The number of rivals we have to mark is getting less and less. It's a question of marking the people you're going to mark," Brailsford added.
"If you put a line through everybody all the blokes that are over a quarter of an hour behind in this race, you won't have many blokes left. It's a question of being more strategical, more tactical."
Froome has five riders at three to four minutes behind him with nine days remaining.
Sky already employs a new tactic to protect Froome in the final kilometre of a flat stage. Instead of a train, Ian Stannard guides him through the carnage.
"We have adopted a different style. Instead of having the whole team trying to ride on the front, it's a bit more manoeuvrable and flexible with Ian Stannard, who moves so well around the bunch," Brailsford explained.
"He has the power to surge when he needs two, so it's a bit more agile for him and Chris to look after each other instead of all of them getting in the mix with the sprint teams. We have a team of people here with different jobs, and that is exactly one of the reasons Ian Stannard is here. When you see him do it so well, his confidence comes up."
The duo was just ahead of the final crash that involved Boasson Hagen.
"It is nerve wracking to watch it [the final kilometres]. From my point of view, it's just waiting for that three-kilometre mark. I let a big sigh out at that point and hope they say upright," Brailsford added.
"It's a bit of a lottery in that sense. When it's your day, it's your day, and that's a little of what happened to Edvald today."
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