Froome de­nies barg­ing into Tour ri­val Aru

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

Race leader Chris Froome has de­scribed sug­ges­tions that he de­lib­er­ately barged into ri­val Fabio Aru dur­ing a gru­elling Tour de France stage as “crazy.”

Froome, who leads Aru by 18 sec­onds af­ter nine stages, said dur­ing Mon­day’s first rest day that he just made a mis­take.

Many race ob­servers thought the Bri­tish rider might have barged into Aru in re­tal­i­a­tion af­ter the Ital­ian cham­pion ap­peared to launch an at­tack when Froome had a me­chan­i­cal prob­lem on the Mont du Chat climb.

“It was clear to me I had to change bikes straight away and it ap­peared that Fabio Aru ac­cel­er­ated at that moment,” Froome said in com­ments pro­vided by the Sky Team. “I think cer­tainly in the pelo­ton there’s a bit of an un­writ­ten rule that when the race leader has some kind of an is­sue that pre­vents him from rac­ing, then the group doesn’t take ad­van­tage of a sit­u­a­tion like that.”

Froome later caught the Aru group but said the con­tact with the As­tana rider was un­in­ten­tional.

“Once I got back to the group I think the very next hair­pin we went round I lost my bal­ance a lit­tle bit and swerved to the right,” he said.

“Aru hap­pened to be on my right and he had to swerve as well,” Froome added. “It was a gen­uine mis­take and I think Fabio was the first to rec­og­nize that. I apol­o­gized straight away on the road as soon as it hap­pened.

“Any sug­ges­tion that it was on pur­pose is just crazy. First of all, it’s not any­thing I would ever do, and I was al­ready on my spare bike, so to risk putting my de­railleur into Aru’s front wheel — it’s just crazy. I wouldn’t risk that at all.”

Sun­day’s stage to Chambery was filled with drama and crashes.

Among those who did not fin­ish the stage was Froome’s team­mate Geraint Thomas, who re­tired with a frac­tured pelvis and col­lar­bone, along with con­cus­sion.

“It’s a mas­sive blow to the team,” Froome said.

CHRISTOPHE ENA, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Chris Froome: “Any sug­ges­tion that (the con­tact with Fabio Aru) was on pur­pose is just crazy.”

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