Froome crashes, finishes on teammate’s bike
— 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.