Heavy rain marked the opening stage of Tour de France in Düsseldorf, with 198 riders starting the 14km individual time trial on slippery roads.
A number of riders crashed during the test including Paddy Bevin (Cannondale-Drapac), Nicolas Roche (BMC), Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin), Dylan Groenewegen and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) but all were able to continue.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Ion Izagirre (Bahrein-Merida) were not so fortunate though and were forced out of the race due to the injuries they sustained.
Izagirre who started as the last rider for Bahrain-Merida, crashed badly in a corner, close to the point where Valverde had crashed as well. Izagirre crashed into a barrier and was transported by ambulance to hospital, accompanied by the team doctor, Luca Pollastri.
The first diagnosis said that Izagirre has an unstable lumbar fracture and needs surgical treatment. Additional information and details will be known in the next days according to a statement from the team.
Izagirre had been in fine form this season having finished 3rd overall at the Tour of the Basque Country in addition to top tens at the Tour de Romandie, Paris–Nice and the Tour de Suisse amongst other races.
“We are deeply saddened that Ion will not continue this year’s Tour de France, where he was meant to be the team leader after his strong performance this season,” the team said in the statement. “It is a big loss for Team Bahrain-Merida. All riders and staff will put heads together and bite into the further challenges of Tour de France.”