ARENBERG PORTE DU HAINAUT (AFP): Dutch rider Lars Boom won the brutal fifth stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday as British defending champion Chris Froome pulled out of the race after crashing twice.
Boom rode away from his rivals after 152.5km from Ypres in Belgium to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut that included 13km of cobblestones over seven different sections.
But the big winner of the day was yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali of Italy who came home in third and gained significant time on all his overall rivals.
He finished just 17sec behind Boom but more than two minutes ahead of most of his main rivals.
Only Australian Richie Porte, now the Team Sky leader in Froome's absence, kept his losses to within two minutes.
Two-time former winner Alberto Contador lost 2:37, Alejandro Valverde gave up 2:11 and American Andrew Talansky, the winner of last month's Criterium du Dauphine, rolled in 2:05 behind Nibali.
It was an incredible day of numerous crashes but the most dramatic involved the champion and race favourite.
Froome had already gone down once on Tuesday and was wearing a splint to protect his injured left wrist.
He fell again 40-minutes into Wednesday's stage but when he crashed a second time that day an hour later, it was all over.
They hadn't even reached the cobbles yet.
He seemed to have injured his right arm and climbed into a Sky team car, his race and defence over.