The former world champion abandons through injury while team-mate Tim Declerq quits through illness
Quick-Step Floors’s Philippe Gilbert has abandoned the 2018 Tour de France through injuries suffered in a scary crash on a descent on stage 16.
The former world champion had attacked from the 46-man breakaway on the slopes of the third climb of the Col de Portet-d’Aspet with 71km to go, and had gained over a minute’s advantage as he crested the category two ascent.
As he looked to extend his advantage, Gilbert was pushing it on the descent with his team-mate and eventual stage winner Julian Alaphilippe behind.
But on a left-hand bend, the Belgian came in with too much speed and locked up as he tried to brake, realising he was heading into the road-side wall.
He crashed into the wall and was flung from his bike into the ravine on the other side. The 36-year-old re-emerged eventually, giving a thumbs up to camera and remounting his bike, despite having suffered cuts, with a particularly severe gash on his left leg. Gilbert was given the most combative rider award after the stage for finishing despite the crash.
After visiting the X-ray truck after the stage finish in Bagnères de Luchon, it was then confirmed Gilbert would not begin the 17th stage on Wednesday, and was later diagnosed with a fractured patella.
Quick-Step Floors are down to five riders remaining after stage 16, with Tim Declerq unable to finish the stage through stomach problems and Fernando Gaviria abandoning last week on stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez.
The Belgian team have had a remarkably successful Tour so far though, with Gaviria claiming two stage wins and the yellow jersey, and Alaphilippe also taking two stages and a commanding lead in the king of the mountains competition.