Crashes abound in rough Stage 9
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.”