It happened with a little under 60 kilometers (37 miles) remaining, forcing the stage to be neutralized and then stopped altogether shortly after – for almost 20 minutes. He has a suspected fractured wrist.
Australia’s Simon Gerrans, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and Russian Dmitry Kozontchuk were also forced out of the race after the incident, while Daryl Impey pulled out shortly after the stage.
The 30-year-old Briton finished second on the 159.5km run from Antwerp to the infamous Mur (wall) de Huy behind Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez.
With the overall leader Rohan Dennis stuck in the chasing group, all Etixx had to do was control the race, execute some relatively simple tactics, and the stage and yellow jersey would be theirs.
Froome’s relief was understandable, given how heavy the crash behind him was.
Bonnet was conscious when he was taken away by medical staff on a stretcher. His team said he was to undergo surgery on a broken cervical vertebra, although his condition was not serious. “For the race to be neutralised it has to be pretty serious”. When the peloton eventually regrouped, several riders showed signs of injury, including race leader Fabian Cancellara. Ultimately, four riders, including Bonnet, withdrew from the stage.
The race continued after a 10-minute stoppage, but at a neutralised pace until Tour organisers gave the signal for riders to race again with 50km to go.
And we look forward to Tuesday’s stage over the cobblestones and award the latest Pédaleur de Charme prize. “I expected it and I was marking him”, Froome said. ‘I thought it was a good decision. It is not something that can be black and white.
“Race each stage as best as we can and not think it’s an extra pressure or burden being in yellow”.
Approximately 40 riders hit the Mur de Huy together but Froome and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) made the first key accelerations before Rodriguez attacked.
For the second day running Czech Jan Barta, who won the day’s combativity award, got in the breakaway and was joined by Swiss Martin Elmiger, Belgian Serge Pauwels and France’s Bryan Nauleau.
With the exception of Van Garderen – the American rider is four seconds ahead of Froome in eighth overall – none of the others in the top 10 is a threat for the Tour victory.
With rain hammering down and the wind howling, the teams of the main GC contenders fought to keep their men at the front of a bunch where assorted laws of physics dictate that only so many riders can fit in order to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences of being shelled out the back.
Rodriguez and Froome clocked the same time of 3 hours, 26 minutes, 54 seconds. At 223.5 km, it is also the longest stage of the Tour.
“It’s early in the Tour”.
“But in the end I’d say the day was a pretty big success”.
“One hundred per cent we will have to re-evaluate”. Applaud it, well done and we get on and carry on.