After a heartbreaking end to his debut Tour de France last year, former Bendigo cyclist Jack Haig (Team Bahrain Victorious) has again had an unfortunate finish to his race in 2022.
During Wednesday night's fifth stage from Lille Metropole to Arenberg Porte du Hainau, the 28-year-old was involved in a crash after a loose hay bale found its way onto the road as the peloton approached.
After one rider clipped the bale it sparked a chain-reaction which saw Haig and several riders go down, including fellow Australia Caleb Ewan and Primoz Roglic.
Haig suffered multiple fractures to his wrist and has abandoned the race for the second year in a row.
"Haig was taken to hospital following the crash," Team Bahrain Victorious said in a statement.
"Jack had multiple abrasions and bruises over the body and required stitches for a cut above the elbow.
"CT scans also revealed multiple non-displaced wrist fractures. Fortunately, Jack had no concussion or head injury and will travel home tomorrow.
"The team would like to thank the race doctor, medical staff and Centre Hospitalier de Valenciennes for their support."
Meanwhile, Australian cycling veteran Simon Clarke has earned a magnificent, last-ditch Tour de France triumph to crown his long career after the brutal, crash-strewn cobbled stage.
But while the 35-year-old Israel-Premier Tech rider was left in floods of joyous tears after winning a lung-bursting sprint for the line on Wednesday, it proved a calamitous day for the men supposed to be Australia's biggest hitters on the Tour.
Clarke's career-defining triumph came after a chaotic 157km ride from Lille to Arenberg, a tough stage featuring more than 19km of cobbled sectors which had been expected to cause havoc - and certainly lived up to its billing.
Belgian Wout van Aert came home unscathed to retain the overall lead, but it was a huge day for two-time defending champion Pogacar, who gained time over all his rivals including a huge chunk over his Slovenian friend and rival, Primoz Roglic.
Roglic, one of the pre-race favourites, also suffered in the incident that floored Ewan, and ended up losing more than two minutes to his countryman.
But it was the greatest day of Clarke's 13-year pro career after the Melburnian, whose previous career highlights were winning two stages at the Vuelta a Espana and being part of a team time trial win in the 2013 Tour, pulled out all the stops to win by a hair's breadth.
Sprinting out of the remnants of an early breakaway, the Australian timed his final fling perfectly, edging out Dutchman Taco van der Hoorn with a 'bike throw' for the victory after more than three-and-a-quarter hours in the saddle.
Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen was third, two seconds down.
Thursday's sixth stage of the 2022 Tour will see the riders travel from Binche to Longwy.
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