Sun, Jul 24, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Froome survives crash, keeps Tour title hopes intact

Reuters, SAINT-GERVAIS-LES-BAINS, France

Team Sky’s Chris Froome of Britain celebrates on the podium after the 19th stage of the 103rd edition of the Tour de France in Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, France, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

In a split second, Chris Froome’s hopes of claiming a third Tour de France title hung in the balance.

His bike slid on the plain white line on a slippery descent toward the end of Friday’s 19th stage and the Briton got back up with cuts and bruises to his back, elbow and knee before taking his teammate Geraint Thomas’s bike for the final climb.

“Today shows exactly why [the Tour is not won before the finish line is crossed in Paris]. There is nothing seriously injured, but it could have gone either way,” said Froome, who led stage winner Romain Bardet of France by 4 minutes, 11 seconds going into yesterday’s last competitive stage.

Leading Dutchman Bauke Mollema, who cracked in the finale after also crashing, by 3 minutes, 52 seconds going into Friday’s 146km trek from Albertville proved crucial for Froome, as his massive advantage meant there was no need to panic.

When other rivals attacked in the 9.8km ascent to Le Bettex, Froome managed to respond, being brought back by his lieutenant, Wout Poels.

It is not the first time that Froome has looked vulnerable on the Tour this year.

On the 12th stage to Mont Ventoux, he crashed after former teammate Richie Porte collided into a television motorbike, running up the climb after his bike was broken in the incident.

However, the race jury ruled that he should not lose time over what organizers called an extraordinary incident.

“I am going to be stiff after today, but hopefully I can rely on my teammates,” Froome said.

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