Sport­ing rid­ers wait for Froome to get new bike

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JOHN LE­ICES­TER AND AN­DREW DAMPF

The Tour de France cy­cling race threw the kitchen sink at Chris Froome:

Steep moun­tain as­cents fol­lowed by daredevil de­scents at speeds ex­ceed­ing 70 kilo­me­tres per hour that wiped out other rid­ers, the loss of his top team­mate in a crash, a break­down on his bike, and ri­vals who tried to make him crack with bursts of ac­cel­er­a­tion.

But the most gru­elling, drama-filled day so far of this 104th Tour fin­ished, yet again, with Froome still wear­ing the race leader’s yel­low jersey.

By sur­viv­ing Stage 9 that put 12 rid­ers out of the race, and left oth­ers blood­ied and ban­daged, the three-time cham­pion took a big step to­ward a fourth vic­tory in Paris on July 23.

With seven as­cents that to­gether amounted to 4,600 me­tres of climb­ing — more than half the height of Ever­est — this was the “mon­ster stage” that Froome had pre­dicted it would be.

It sep­a­rated gen­uine con­tenders for vic­tory from sim­ple pre­tenders.

At the start Sun­day, eight rid­ers had been within a minute of Froome in the overall stand­ings. Now, just three are.

Among top names gone com­pletely: Richie Porte and Froome’s team­mate Geraint Thomas, who led the Tour for its first four days. Both crashed out.

Porte, who had been fifth overall, was zoom­ing down­hill in pur­suit of Froome when he missed a left-hand bend, cartwheeled across the road and bowled over an­other rider, Dan Martin, be­fore slam­ming into a stony, vine-cov­ered bank.

Medics first treated the Aus­tralian on the tar­mac and then took him to a hos­pi­tal where he was di­ag­nosed with a frac­tured pelvis and col­lar­bone.

Fabio Baldato, one of the direc­tors of Porte’s BMC team, said the rider had shoul­der pain but “was al­ways con­scious. He knew what hap­pened and was ask­ing for his hel­met and his glasses.” Thomas broke his col­lar­bone. The crashes took some of the shine off what other­wise was an im­pres­sive show of re­silience from Froome.

He placed third in the stage, nar­rowly beaten in a fi­nal sprint by Colom­bian Rigob­erto Uran at the fin­ish in Cham­bery, in the Alps.

French rider War­ren Bar­guil was just mil­lime­tres be­hind in sec­ond place — so close that he burst into tears think­ing he had won, only to dis­cover mo­ments later that he hadn’t.

For his third place, Froome was awarded four bonus sec­onds that al­lowed him to con­sol­i­date his overall lead. With Thomas, who had been in sec­ond place, now out, Ital­ian Fabio ARU climbed to sec­ond spot in the race rank­ings — 18 sec­onds be­hind Froome overall.

French rider Ro­main Bardet, run­ner-up to Froome last year, is third overall, 51 sec­onds be­hind Froome.

The only other rider within a minute of Froome is Uran, who jumped from 11th to fourth overall, 55 sec­onds be­hind the leader.

Uran thought Bar­guil had beaten him to the line. It was a mo­ment of con­fu­sion aptly fit­ting for a day of rac­ing so chaotic that it was dif­fi­cult at times to keep track of all the drama, as rid­ers scat­tered like leaves over the 181.5-kilo­me­tre stage — seven of them fall­ing so far back that they missed the time cut and are now out of the Tour. To­ward the front, Froome had a cri­sis of his own. With aw­ful tim­ing, the Bri­ton sur­vived a break­down of his bike gears on the last, hugely tough climb that forced him to change ma­chines just when he was rid­ing fu­ri­ously in a bunch with other top con­tenders. As Froome was fran­ti­cally sig­nalling to mem­bers of his team fol­low­ing in a car that he was in trou­ble, ARU choose that ex­act mo­ment to ac­cel­er­ate away, fol­lowed by other top chal­lengers.

CHRIS GRAYTHEN, GETTY IM­AGES

Chris Froome rides dur­ing Sun­day’s stage 9, a tough day that saw sev­eral break bones as they lost con­trol.

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