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Rigoberto Urán and Nicolas Roche have been forced to abandon the Vuelta a España 2019.
The pair were both caught in a huge crash on stage six of the race, which happened after just over 100km of racing.
EF Education First rider Urán was a strong contender for the overall title and was sitting sixth overall at the start of the day, while Roche had led the general classification until the first mountain finish on stage five, but was still in the top-10 when he was forced out.
Urán's team-mate Hugh Carthy, who has been a key animator of the race so far in support of his leader, has also abandoned the race.
The 198.9km stage from Mora de Rubielos to Ares del Maestrat opened with a frantic battle as riders tried to form a breakaway, with an escape finally taking shape after 60km.
An 11-rider move went clear and racing was high-paced in the first 100km as the peloton tried to keep the break within range.
The massive crash then happened just after the 100km mark, with riders from Lotto-Soudal, Deceuninck - Quick-Step, Jumbo-Visma and EF Education First involved.
Urán, Carthy and CCC Team's Victor de la Parte abandoned almost immediately.
Roche visited the medical car but stepped off the bike shortly after.
Jumbo-Visma's Tony Martin also went down but was able to continue, seen leading the bunch with rips in his shorts and some nasty cuts on his rear.
The fall is a disaster for EF Education First, as their chosen man Urán had been riding strong in the opening week and was just 59 seconds down on the race leader.
Roche had a stellar start to the Vuelta, taking over the race lead on stage two and holding it until the first summit of the race on day five, Alto de Javalambre.
Despite losing his slim lead, Roche started stage six in fifth place overall, 57 seconds back on the red jersey.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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