Team Sky lost a key mountain domestique today when Kanstantsin Siutsou crashed and broke his left Tibia.



Belarusian Siutsou has been an indispensable team mate of Wiggins this season. He is a crucial part of the climbing group that has been with the British team leader not only at Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné but on the altitude training camps on Tenerife.



Team Sky boss David Brailsford played down the significance of the loss at the finish in Boulogne-sur-Mer, saying, “It’s a setback, but it’s not a devastating setback.”



“[He is a] classic domestique [for the] medium mountains,” Brailsford explained to a number of journalists at the bus. “He’s a guy that can go back and fetch bottles and work hard all day, but he’s a very good climber. So he can do that first couple of mountains in the key mountain stages.”



With such a strong climbing team in the Tour – including Michael Rogers, Richie Porte and Chris Froome – Brailsford explained that Sky and Wiggins would be okay. “It’s a real shame, but not the end of the world.”



The weight will be even more felt on the seven remaining support men, including Mark Cavendish. “It’s like anything else, it’s a game of allocations of resources. You have your resources and you use them accordingly, and will probably shift a couple of things in light of it. The main thing is to get back and re-group tonight,” Brailsford continued.



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Cavendish is “one of the best team-mates you could have, that’s for sure. I’m serious about that. You have to give it to him, what he did yesterday was unbelievable, but he is a phenomenal team-mate.”



Asked if he’d be fetching water bottles, Brailsford added, “I wouldn’t put it past him.”



Siutsou crashed around 50 kilometres remaining in part of a large pile up. Brailsford said he injured his lower leg, likely his ankle or calf.



“It’s a bit hectic at points. One minute all is calm, the next minute all hell is let loose. It’s a little bit nerve-racking,” Yates said of the day, which saw numerous other crashes with Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) and Janez Brajkovic (Astana) also going down.



Yates added, “That was a major blow. [Siutsou] is an integral part of the team. If we have the yellow jersey we need to defend it, but we’ve got a lot of strong guys. We just have to deal with it.”

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Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson

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