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Watch: Criterium du Dauphine crash involving more than 50 riders on treacherous downhill section

Gregor Muhlberger, of Austria and Movistar, after a pile-up at the Criterium du Dauphine
Gregor Muhlberger was among those injured in the pile-up - Getty Images/Dario Belingheri

Stage five of the Criterium du Dauphine in France had to be neutralised following two huge crashes on a treacherous downhill section with just over 21km remaining.

Race leader Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step), Primož Roglič (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) was among the riders to suffer injuries after around 50 riders went down on the slick, wet run-in to the finish in Saint-Priest.

Some riders escaped relatively lightly. Roglic was quickly back on his feet, Evenepoel was slower to get up, and there will be some concern at QuickStep given he appeared to hit his head and the same shoulder he fractured two months ago at Itzulia Basque Country. It remains to be seen whether the Belgian continues in the yellow jersey on Friday, though team principal Patrick Lefevere suggested he would.

“I got an update from our team doctor, and it looks like it will remain bumps and bruises. From our team, only Antoine Huby needs some stitches, but that is not super urgent,” Lefevere said in an interview with Sporza. “But it is not fun. You can also imagine that Remco would immediately be scared and reach for his shoulder after a crash like that, after what he experienced in the Basque Country. But it looks like it will be okay.”

The Visma-Lease a Bike pairing of Dylan van Baarle and Steven Kruijswijk were both forced to abandon due to injuries sustained. It is the latest misfortune to befall the Dutch team, who won all three grand tours last year but have had a wretched couple of months with injuries to stars Wout van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard.

After much consultation, organisers announced that because of the lack of ambulances remaining, the peloton would ride the final kilometres into Saint-Priest together, but there would be no stage winner and no time awarded for the general classification.

“In accordance with the jury of commissaires of the UCI it’s been decided that due to the fact there are no ambulances can take care of the security of the riders because they are all busy going to different hospitals, the race will be neutralised,” read a statement. “The race will be neutralised and the peloton will ride all the way to the finish line under the escort of the Garde Republicaine. The times will not be taken into account, there will not be a winner for today’s stage.”

Meanwhile, British champion Pfeiffer Georgi and two-time race winner Lizzie Deignan finished third and fourth respectively on Stage 1 of the newly-rebranded Tour of Britain Women.

Georgi (Team DSM-Firmenich-PostNl) and Deignan, who is riding for the Great Britain national team this week as her Lidl-Trek team have not entered the race, were part of an elite nine-rider breakaway which escaped heading into the final in Llandudno, at the end of a lumpy stage from Welshpool. Deignan’s teammate Anna Henderson also made it into the group.

In the end it was Letizia Paternoster (Liv-AlUla-Jayco) who out-sprinted world champion Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) on the Welsh seafront to grab the race lead. But the British trio are well placed overall, with the escapees heading into Friday’s second stage with a lead of 3min50sec over the rest of the field.

This year’s race, the first following the appointment of the former Team Sky and Ineos Grenadiers deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth as Tour of Britain race director, was reduced to four stages to give it a better chance of going ahead following the collapse of long-time promoter SweetSpot at the end of last year.

British Cycling decided to take on the running of both the men’s and women’s events, and while there have been moments this year when it looked as if both might be in trouble, the governing body has managed to get them up and running.

The recent injection of around £20m into British Cycling’s coffers from Lloyds Bank, who have taken on title sponsorship of both races, has been described as “game-changing” by the governing body’s chief executive Jon Dutton.

Dutton says the hope is to grow the women’s event back up to six days next year, when all the big World Tour teams should once again be involved. The uncertainty this year meant that many of them opted to compete elsewhere.

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