Chris Froome, who raced to the top of the podium in Paris last July, is out of this year's Tour de France after falling in treacherous conditions on today's stage of the bicycle race.
Today's stage had been predicted to be harrowing, owing to the course's inclusion of cobblestones. But Froome went down twice before the race even reached that point, leaving his riding kit torn on both thighs and one shoulder, where a bloody wound could be seen.
It was the second bad day for Froome, who also fell Tuesday. That crash left him with an injured wrist. Photos from today's stage showed Froome wincing in pain as he struggled to get into his team's car.
Asked about his health yesterday, Froome said, "The wrist is painful and it's certainly not ideal going into tomorrow's cobbled stage but I have a great team around me and we'll get through the next few days as best we can."
With Froome's departure, Britain's powerful Team Sky is now without an obvious leader. The team has won the past two Tours in 2012 with Bradley Wiggins and last year with Froome.
Today's stage was in northern France, from Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hinaut, through an area that NPR's Eleanor Beardsley says includes a cobblestoned section known as the "hell of the north."
This morning, wet conditions led organizers to omit two of the nine lengths of cobblestones from the stage, out of concerns for the riders' safety. Heavy rains had flooded at least one section.
Going into today's stage, the fifth of the race, Froome had been only two seconds behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali, an Italian who rides for Team Astana.