Professional cyclist Tim Declercq has been left with horrific bruises on his back after being caught in a violent hailstorm during a race.
The Belgian was competing in stage two of the Criterium du Dauphine out in France, where extreme weather conditions left cyclists and spectators running for cover.
Rain had been pouring all day on the Col de Porte, but as the last of the competitors reached the finish line heavy hail began to emerge.
Declercq was among the racers who caught the worst of the brutal conditions, which left him with huge red welts on his back.
Alongside a picture of his gruesome injury, the 31-year-old wrote: “As if Le Dauphine was not painful enough for the legs!”
Some of the riders were even forced to walk their bikes over the finish line, with roads becoming too icy in the freezing weather.
Slovenia’s Primo Roglic came out on top in stage two and is currently in possession of the yellow jersey.
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome is not enjoying the best of races, nonetheless, after falling 14 minutes behind Team Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal.
The Dauphine is the final warm-up race before the delayed Tour de France gets underway on 29 August.
It is widely considered the toughest stage of the five-day event.
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Stage three, which begins on Friday, covers 157km from Corenc to Saint-Martin-De-Belleville.
But it’s fair to say the majority of riders will now have to get through it amidst the pain of some unusual injuries, particularly Declercq, having been caught in yesterday’s harsh weather conditions.
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Israel Start-Up Nation, who have riders competing in the Dauphine, posted on Twitter: “Many riders — including our boys — were hit by one hell of a hailstorm.
“The scene was total chaos and mayhem … riders running for cover, hit hard by icy mini ping pong balls.”
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