23 Jul 2016

Froome crashes but still leads Tour

5:55 am on 23 July 2016

Chris Froome hit the deck but retained the overall leader's yellow jersey on the Tour de France in the 19th stage, a crash-marred 146-km mountain trek won by Frenchman Romain Bardet.

The British cyclist Chris Froome.

The British cyclist Chris Froome. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Briton crashed some 12km from the finish on a slippery descent and ended the stage on a team mate's bike with cuts and bruises on his back and right elbow.

Shortly after Bardet lit up the race with an attack on the tricky descent towards the foot of the final ascent, Froome crashed on a right-hand bend. He was quickly back on Geraint Thomas's bike and held firm in the favourites' group.

AG2r-La Mondiale rider Bardet, who gave France their first win on this Tour, quickly caught early attacker Rui Costa in the climb, a 9.8-km effort at an average gradient of eight percent and went solo with 3.5km left.

Froome, who crossed the line 36 seconds behind Bardet, now leads the Frenchman, who moved up from fifth to second overall, by 4:11 minutes.

Dutchman Bauke Mollema, who started the day in second place overall, also crashed and eventually lost a massive 4:25.

Tom Dumoulin's hope of winning the Olympic time trial in Rio next month suffered a major blow when the Dutchman pulled out of the Tour with a lower wrist injury.

The Giant-Alpecin rider, one of the main favourites for the August 10th Olympic event, fell off his bike with about 62km left in the 19th stage, and abandoned the race in tears a couple of kilometres further on.

Dumoulin won two stages in this year's Tour, a summit finish in Arcalis, Andorra, and the first time trial. He was second in yesterday's mountain time trial behind overall leader Chris Froome.