Froome crashes, fin­ishes on team­mate’s bike

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - SAMUEL PETREQUIN


— If Chris Froome wins the Tour de France on Sun­day, it won’t have been an easy ride to the Champs El­y­sees.

Af­ter a pileup forced him to run up part of Mont Ven­toux last week, the two-time cham­pion es­caped from an­other crash on Fri­day dur­ing a chaotic and spec­tac­u­lar penul­ti­mate Alpine stage held in stormy and wet weather.

Two days be­fore the cer­e­mo­nial ride to Paris, rain played havoc at the Tour, caus­ing many crashes and reshuf­fling places in the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion. But Froome was lucky enough to es­cape with no se­ri­ous in­jury, and even emerge with a big­ger lead over­all.

“A crash like that could have gone ei­ther way, and I’m grate­ful that noth­ing is in­jured,” Froome said. “Never a quiet day on the Tour.”

Since he took his ri­vals by sur­prise with a dar­ing down­hill at­tack that earned him the race leader’s yel­low jer­sey on the eighth stage, me­dia re­ports have por­trayed Froome as the in­evitable win­ner. Day af­ter day, as his over­all lead built up, Froome kept in­sist­ing that the Tour was not over.

Fri­day’s 19th stage proved him right.

Froome, who won the Tour in 2013 and 2015 and crashed out of the 2014 race, hit the ground with for­mer Tour cham­pion Vin­cenzo Nibali in a de­scent, soon af­ter Ro­main Bardet launched a de­ci­sive at­tack to post the first French vic­tory at this year’s race.

Froome did not panic, quickly bor­rowed a team­mate’s bike and sal­vaged his torn yel­low jer­sey af­ter cross­ing the fin­ish line 36 sec­onds be­hind Bardet. The French­man climbed to sec­ond place over­all af­ter Froome’s pre­vi­ous clos­est ri­val, Bauke Mollema, crashed and never re­cov­ered.

Froome in­creased his lead by 19 sec­onds, hold­ing a lead of 4 min­utes, 11 sec­onds over Bardet, with Nairo Quin­tana of Colom­bia mov­ing up to third, 4:27 back.

Froome slipped on road paint as he crossed a white line and hit the ground just 13.5 kilo­me­tres from the fin­ish of the nervy 146-kilo­me­tre ride to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc fea­tur­ing four as­cents.

He was able to con­tinue rac­ing af­ter swap­ping bikes with team­mate Geraint Thomas.

“I think that I hit one of the white lines on the road and lost my front wheel,” Froome said at the fin­ish, his right knee heav­ily ban­daged.

Froome was de­scend­ing at a rel­a­tively cau­tious speed of al­most 45 kph when he fell. With his jer­sey torn, blood drip­ping down his right leg, cuts and bruises on his back and blood on his right el­bow, Froome un­der­stand­ably looked un­com­fort­able on Thomas’ bike.

Froome needs to ne­go­ti­ate one more tricky moun­tain stage on Satur­day. “To­mor­row is go­ing to be hard, it’s go­ing to be re­ally hard and I’m sure that I’m go­ing to be a bit stiff af­ter to­day,” he said. “Hope­fully, I can rely on my team­mates and it’s just one last push.”


Bri­tain’s Chris Froome, in his torn over­all leader’s yel­low jer­sey, bleeds af­ter crash­ing dur­ing the 19th stage of the Tour de France Fri­day.

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