Froome drops out of Tour de France

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Froome drops out of Tour de France
LE TOUQUET-PARIS-PLAGE, FRANCE - JULY 08: Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky follows the wheels of his teammates Bernhard Eisel of Austria and David Lopez Garcia of Spain and Team Sky as they chase back to the peloton after Froome was involved in a crash just after the start of stage four of the 2014 Le Tour de France from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille on July 8, 2014 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
LE TOUQUET-PARIS-PLAGE, FRANCE - JULY 08: Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky chases back to the peloton after being involved in a crash just afte the start of stage four of the 2014 Le Tour de France from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille on July 8, 2014 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
LE TOUQUET-PARIS-PLAGE, FRANCE - JULY 08: Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky follows the wheels of his teammates Bernhard Eisel of Austria and David Lopez Garcia of Spain and Team Sky as they chase back to the peloton after Froome was involved in a crash just after the start of stage four of the 2014 Le Tour de France from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille on July 8, 2014 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
LE TOUQUET-PARIS-PLAGE, FRANCE - JULY 08: Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky follows the wheels of his teammates Bernhard Eisel of Austria and David Lopez Garcia of Spain and Team Sky as they chase back to the peloton after Froome was involved in a crash just after the start of stage four of the 2014 Le Tour de France from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille on July 8, 2014 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
LE TOUQUET-PARIS-PLAGE, FRANCE - JULY 08: Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky receives medical attention after being involved in a crash early in the race during stage four of the 2014 Le Tour de France from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille on July 8, 2014 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND - JULY 07: Chris Froome takes a drink at the start of the third stage of the 2014 Tour de France, a 155km stage between Cambridge and London, on July 7, 2014 in Cambridge, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND - JULY 07: Race leader Vincenzo Nibali (l) of Italy and the Astana Pro Team chats to Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team SKY at the start of the third stage of the 2014 Tour de France, a 155km stage between Cambridge and London, on July 7, 2014 in Cambridge, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky looks on during sign in prior to stage two of the 2014 Le Tour de France from York to Sheffield on July 6, 2014 in York, United Kingdom. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 05: Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team SKY attaches a route map to his bike at the start of the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France, a 190km stage between Leeds and Harrogate, on July 5, 2014 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
LE TOUQUET-PARIS-PLAGE, FRANCE - JULY 08: Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky receives medical attention after being involved in a crash early in the race during stage four of the 2014 Le Tour de France from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille on July 8, 2014 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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ARENBERG, France (AP) - Defending champion Chris Froome dropped out of the Tour de France after crashing twice in a chaotic, rain-soaked ride in the fifth stage on Wednesday.

A day after hurting his left wrist in a crash in the fourth stage, Froome fell again early on the 152.5-kilometer (94.5-mile) route from the Belgian town of Ypres to Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut in France on Wednesday, scraping his right side.

Then, just before the first patch of cobblestones about halfway through the treacherous route, the Team Sky rider took another spill. With a cut under his right eye, he limped over to a team car, climbed in and left the race.

The team wrote on Twitter after his withdrawal: "Heartbreak for Chris Froome after another hard crash."

Riders were flying left and right on the difficult stage, and one even hurtled head-first over his handlebars on a cobblestone patch.

Marcel Kittel of Germany, the winner of three of the first four stages, also went down. Belgian Juergen van den Broeck and American Andrew Talansky crashed, as well, but they remained in the race.

The withdrawal of Froome, the main pre-race favorite, leaves the three-week cycling showcase wide open.

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali is wearing the leader's yellow jersey, but two-time champion Alberto Contador is only two seconds behind and could become the man to beat.

Froome had said before the stage that the biggest concern about the seven cobblestone patches on Wednesday's route was not riding over them, but the nervousness of the pack as riders jockeyed to get up front, which is considered the safest place to be.

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