Valverde crashes out of Tour de France as Thomas wins on grand depart
Alejandro Valverde crashed out of the Tour de France on the grand depart as Geraint Thomas won the opening time trial in Dusseldorf.
Movistar rider Valverde, consistently a contender in the general classification on Grand Tour events, suffered the same fate as a number of other riders in crashing in wet conditions on the 14km ride.
The Spaniard lost control as he rode over a particularly wet patch and went sliding into the barricades.
Movistar later posted on Twitter that Valverde had been taken to hospital in an ambulance to assess possible fractures, having also suffered cuts to his leg.
While Valverde was left to deal with that cruel blow, Geraint Thomas took the yellow jersey as his time of 16 minutes and four seconds proved to be enough.
The Team Sky man was left with a nervous wait after setting that imposing time, but watched on as competitor after competitor failed to better his effort.
BMC's Stefan Kung came within five seconds of that time, with Thomas' team-mate Vasil Kiryienka seven seconds behind in third.
Chris Froome, who is gunning for a fourth Tour crown with Sky, was the last man left on the road, but had to settle for sixth - 12 seconds behind his colleague