Aussie rider in horrific crash as Tour de France chaos continues

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·Sports Reporter
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Team Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan reacts as he falls with Team Bora Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan of Slovakia close to the finish line of the 3rd stage of the Tour de France. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ENA/AFP via Getty Images)
Team Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan reacts as he falls with Team Bora Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan of Slovakia close to the finish line of the 3rd stage of the Tour de France. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ENA/AFP via Getty Images)

Australian hopeful Caleb Ewan has been caught up in a second massive crash to rock the Tour de France.

Ewan was one of three riders to pull out of the Tour after stage three, after the Australian got tangled up with eventual stage winner Tim Merlier's rear wheel at more than 80 kilometres per hour.

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He brought down sprint rival Peter Sagan with him, while a series of other crashes saw several high-profile competitors in the wars just days after a terrifying pile-up caused by a spectator.

The pair were part of the leading group charging to the finish behind Merlier, with Ewan withdrawing from the Tour due to a fractured collarbone.

Merlier's teammate Mathieu van der Poel kept hold of the overall lead on a brutal day of racing peppered with falls on the rain-slick, narrow winding roads in Brittany with race favourite Geraint Thomas dislocating a shoulder and 2020 runner-up Primoz Roglic losing valuable time and crossing the line with his kit in tatters.

Sagan had cuts and bruises but was quickly back in the saddle.

Jack Haig of Bahrain Victorious and Robert Gesink of Jumbo also pulled out injured.

Yellow jersey wearer Van der Poel cut a dour figure compared to the tear-filled elation he experienced after winning Sunday's stage two.

"It was a very fast, technical run-in with all the general classification guys racing for their places, it's difficult to say anything now," said Van Der Poel.

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Thomas bravely battled back to catch to peleton with the help of teammates after falling in slippery conditions and dislocating his shoulder.

Scenes of Thomas shaking his legs when having his shoulder put back in by medics will live long in the memory.

"Hats off to him, he was in pain but managed well," said Ineos sprts director Gabriel Rasch, who revealed Thomas would go for a scan.

Slovenia's Roglic then hit the tarmac hip first with 10km to go and while shaken he also limited his losses with the help of teammates.

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In the chaos of all the crashes, Ineos' Ecuadorian rider Richard Carapaz was the overall title contender ending the day with relatively good news as he climbed to third in the overall standings.

Van der Poel enjoys an eight-second lead over stage one winner Julian Alaphilippe, with Carapaz in third at 31sec along with Wout van Aert of Jumbo.

But Pogacar and Thomas both lost 26sec Monday while a grazed Roglic crossed the line 1min 20sec down, having rallied heroically to save his Tour.

"That wasn't a nice day, some rivals lost time but you don't want to see that," said Pogacar.

Caleb Ewan's Lotto teammates gather around him after his crash during the final spring on stage three of the Tour de France. (Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Caleb Ewan's Lotto teammates gather around him after his crash during the final spring on stage three of the Tour de France. (Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Frenchman Alaphilippe had to swerve to avoid Ewan and Sagan in the run-in.

"That was a mentally shattering day, I'm glad it's over," he said.

As for the mystery woman in yellow who caused the first crash on day one with her sign held up in front of the pack, French authorities are still actively looking for her, a high-ranking gendarme told AFP Monday.

"We don't know who she is, if she's German or Franco-German or whatever. But don't worry we'll find her," the gendarme said.

"She isn't at risk of much more than a fine, the ASO (race organisers) are making this move more as a warning to fans on the roadside."

There were massed ranks of fans again Monday, but none of the falls was their fault.

With AFP

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