Two-time world time-trial champion Tony Martin looked set to be the first rider to withdraw from the Tour de France on Saturday, as the German was taken to hospital with a serious-looking injury following a fall on the opening stage.
A host of riders, among them Alberto Contador, went to ground as the finish of the first stage, a 213-kilometre ride from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia on Corsica, was marred by a series of crashes.
Martin, world time trial champion in 2011 and 2012, came off the worst of all, with reports that he fainted twice before he was carried away on a stretcher to be taken to hospital in Bastia.
There were unconfirmed reports that he had suffered a fractured shoulder, and there seems little chance of the 28-year-old being at the start line for Sunday's second stage, from Bastia to Ajaccio.
Losing a team-mate of Martin's calibre would be a big blow to Mark Cavendish's prospects of enjoying a successful Tour, as the Isle of Man sprint specialist seeks to regain the green jersey for the best sprinter that he won in 2011 before losing out to Peter Sagan last year.