Crashes abound in rough Stage 9

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By John Le­ices­ter and An­drew Dampf

The As­so­ci­ated Press

CHAMBERY, FRANCE» The Tour de France threw the kitchen sink at Chris Froome: steep moun­tain as­cents fol­lowed by dare­devil de­scents at speeds ex­ceed­ing 45 miles 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 gru­el­ing, 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 15,000 feet of climb­ing — more than half the height of Mount 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.

Richie Porte and Froome’s team­mate, Geraint Thomas, who led the Tour for its first four days, both crashed out.

The Tour’s head of med­i­cal, Florence Pom­merie, said Porte seemed “more scared than hurt.”

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