Tour de France 2014 Stage 5 saw one crash after another. The contestants braved the Paris-Robaix cobbles, also known as 'the Hell of the North', which lived up to its reputation of being unpredictable and treacherous.
Lars Bloom of Belkin emerged triumphant, while defending champion Chris Froome of Team Sky suffered two crashes and withdrew. The stage also caused the decimation of the peloton. And the rain only made things harder for the contestants on this already arduous stretch, reported CyclingQuotes
Dutchman Bloom took pole position in the stage after riding through nine muddy and wet cobbled areas, which led to Arenberg. Vicenzo Nibali of Astana, holder of the Yellow jersey, retained his position as overall leader.
Contestants crashing seemed to be the order of the day; and keeping count of the number of crashes was difficult. The medical bulletin of Tour de France said that 12 contestants were in need of treatment. Jurgen van den Broeck of Lotto-Belisol, one of the top 10 contestants, suffered a nasty crash as he fell into a ditch after flipping over his bicycle's handlebars.
Apart from Bloom winning the race, Froome's crash and withdrawal took centre stage.
"When Froomey crashed early on, it was like: not again. He was just behind me and I thought: that sounds nasty. But he is always positive and he was saying: 'I will keep going and be fine on the cobbles,' but then he went down again and it was too much to take. He must have been in bits, but mentally it will be harder on him than physically. No cyclist is indestructible and three within 24 hours is hard to take," The Guardian quoted Froome's teammate Geraint Thomas.
Marcel Kittel, winner of the previous three stages, had his cleats broken and lost his bike during the race.
After Froom's withdrawal, Team Sky's leader is Richie Porte. The Australian came seventh in the race.
The constant precipitation made the surface very skiddy. As a result of the inclement weather, two of the nine cobbled areas were done away with before the commencement of the race. The 1,000m mark at Mons-en-P V Le and the 1,400m mark between Orchies and Beuvry-la-Forêt were the two cobbled areas not be raced on.
There were suggestions that the exclusion of Bradley Wiggins, 2012 victor, from Team Sky was perhaps an oversight especially after star racer Froome's crash, reported The Guardian.
Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Sky principal, however differed. "I have no regrets - we picked a team to win," he said.