الاثنين، 25 يوليو 2016

Froome survives crash to maintain yellow jersey

Romain Bardet escaped to win the stage and move up to second overall
Romain Bardet escaped to win the stage and move up to second overall
Chris Froome survived a spill on the slippery slopes of Mont Blanc to hold on to the yellow jersey as Frenchman Romain Bardet claimed victory on a crash-marred Stage 19 of the Tour de France.
Team Sky's Froome hit the deck as rain fell late on the 146km stage from Albertville to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, and though he quickly swapped bikes with team-mate Geraint Thomas and got back on his way, he appeared to be struggling as rivals tried to attack on the final climb.
Movistar's Nairo Quintana was able to take a handful of seconds but Froome escaped major damage as others had dramas of their own.
AG2R La Mondiale's Bardet took a solo win to move up on a general classification which received a significant shake-up with only two stages left. 
Froome's closest rival on general classification, Bauke Mollema, had a close call when almost running off the road on the damp and treacherous descent to Domancy but his trials were just beginning as he struggled mightily on the climb to the finish, losing more than four minutes on the day and dropping to 10th overall.
Irishman Dan Martin leapfrogged the Dutchman to ninth in the GC after a day that again saw the Etixx QuickStep rider on the attack in the final kilometres in a bid to reel in Bardet's slender advantage.
Bardet's second career Tour stage win, and France's first of this year's race, came by 23 seconds from Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez and his fellow Spaniard Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, with Quintana a further three seconds back.
Froome crossed the line ninth, 36 seconds behind Bardet, while further back 23-year-old Briton Adam Yates was dropped by the contenders in the final stages of the climb and lost his grip on third place overall.
That means Froome has actually seen his advantage in yellow grow as Bardet is now second overall, four minutes 11 seconds down, while Quintana slots into third, a further 16 seconds back.
After losing touch in the latter stages, Adam Yates is now fourth overall, 11 seconds off the podium, but still holding the white jersey as the best young rider.
I am okay - I'm lucky nothing seriously injured. Just lost a bit of skin and I banged my knee a bit.
This short, sharp stage was designed for drama but it was when the weather closed in inside the final 50km that the race changed shape.
Cannondale's Pierre Rolland suffered a dramatic spill after moving into the race lead out of the day's break, but soon riders were hitting the deck throughout the pack.
Mollema crashed on a roundabout and then out-braked himself trying to catch up, narrowly avoiding a nasty spill on a descent.
When Froome went down, he took Astana's Vincenzo Nibali with him, but both riders were able to continue as Froome grabbed a working bike from the nearby Thomas.
Wout Poels, Mikel Landa and Sergio Henao were able to pace Froome back to the main pack but, riding an unfamiliar bike and with the road rash showing through his torn jersey, he looked far from comfortable as others began to make their move.
After the stage ended, Froome was seen with heavy bandaging on his right knee.
"It is ironic really as I was just trying to stay upfront," Froome said of the crash. "I was just trying to stay safe and out of trouble but I think I just hit a white line on the road and lost my front wheel.
"I am okay - I'm lucky nothing seriously injured. Just lost a bit of skin and I banged my knee a bit.
"Today is the kind of day when you feel grateful you've got about four minutes advantage so I could fall back on that a little bit.
"Today shows the Tour is never won until you get to Paris. I am grateful I was not seriously injured. It could have gone either way."
Earlier in the day, Poland's Rafa Majka made sure of winning the King of the Mountains competition by cresting the summit of the Hors Category Montée de Bisanne at the front of the field.
There is one mountain stage remaining, a 146.5km ride to Morzine before Sunday's traditional parade into Paris.