Chris Froome: Tour de France champion out after crashing twice

Defending champion Chris Froome has pulled out of the Tour de France after crashing twice on stage five.

The Briton had resumed riding after his first fall in wet conditions, but withdrew after his second crash with around 66km of the stage to go.

The 29-year-old climbed into a Team Sky support car to leave the race.

Froome tweeted: "Devastated to have to withdraw. Injured wrist and tough conditions made controlling my bike near to impossible."

He added on teamsky.com:  "I'm going to fly home tonight and over the next few days I'll go for some more scans on my wrist to find out exactly what injuries I've sustained."

The stage had yet to reach the first of several cobbled sections that team-mate Geraint Thomas had predicted would cause problems for the riders.

Froome had started the stage in seventh position, two seconds behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali.

He was cleared to resume racing following an X-ray after grazing his left hip and damaging a wrist when falling during the fourth stage on Tuesday.

Froome added: "The X-ray last night didn't show an obvious fracture and I wanted to race today, but clearly I was in pain and we put heavy strapping on the left wrist from the start."

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford praised Froome's bravery for attempting to race despite Tuesday's injury.

He said: "Crashing yesterday and then crashing before the cobbles is obviously very very disappointing and devastating for Chris but that is sport and we keep going.

"Chris was in pain before the stage, there is no denying that. You couldn't have had a worse moment to hurt your wrist the day before cobbles. It was going to be challenging and it will play on your mind but he was brave and was up for it and he wanted to fight for it."

Chris Froome

"Absolutely gutted for Froomey and the whole team. Can't believe it" - Team Sky rider Ben Swift on Twitter

Britain's Mark Cavendish had already pulled out of the race after he dislocated his right shoulder and suffered ligament damage in a crash near the end of stage one, where Froome had finished in sixth place.

Froome had suffered cuts and abrasions to a shoulder after falling during the Criterium du Dauphine in mid-June.

He was chosen to lead Team Sky for this year's race, while Sir Bradley Wiggins, who became the first British winner of the Tour in 2012, was omitted altogether.

The pair fell out during the 2012 Tour, when Froome appeared to disobey orders by pulling away from his team-mate during stage 11 before dropping back again.

Wiggins said: "It's a tough day. I never like to see a great racer go down but Chris will be back.

"Today has showed how hard it is to win the Tour de France, but the team will have prepared for this and they'll deal with it."

Alberto Contador, who finished fourth behind Froome last year, also expressed his disappointment at his rival's plight.

"From here I want to give support to Chris Froome, months of work and everything gone," he tweeted.  "A big loss for the Tour. See you here next year."

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish withdrew after dislocating his shoulder in a crash at the end of the first stage

Chris Froome

Froome was helped into a Team Sky vehicle following his second fall of the stage

Tour de France stage five

The wet weather made conditions difficult for the rest of the riders after Froome's withdrawal