In an unfortunate incident, Great Britain’s Chris Froome broke his bicycle after a crash with a motorbike in stage 12, which was one of the most difficult climbs in the Tour de France. Froome was one kilometer away from the Mont Ventoux finish, when a trailing motorcycle hit him from behind. Since the Brit couldn’t use his damaged bike, he started running instead with a service bike. After he covered the remaining distance, Tour jury decided that Froome could keep his lead. The iconic 12th stage was cut short by 6 kilometers earlier, because of heavy winds and Belgium’s Thomas de Gendt of Team Lotto-Soudal emerged as the winner. Earlier Wednesday, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan won stage-11 but Froome had gained on his lead at that stage, ahead of the Mont Ventoux ride.
Before Froome crashed on Thursday, he had done pretty well in Stage-11. The 162.5 kilometer long flat stretch from Carcassonne to Montpellier didn’t yield any respite to the bikers because of the massive wind force all the way. The wind funneling through the gap between the Pyrenees and Massif Central made the passage extremely challenging. All through the Tour, North-westerly winds have acted as the cyclists’ enemy and stage-11 turned out to be the toughest day for riders. While others struggled, Tinkoff’s Peter Sagan and Chris Froome emerged as the least affected by the chaotic conditions. The two riders broke away from the pack in the last 10 kilometers. Though the Slovakian Sagan won the stage, Froome gained 12 seconds’ lead over his rivals in General Classifications. However, the organizers decided to cut the distance in 12th stage by 6 kilometers because the fiercely windy conditions on the climb up to Mont Ventoux.
After Wednesday’s 11th stage, defending champion Froome had been 28 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Adam Yates. Ireland’s Dan Martin was third with Colombia’s Nairo Quintana at fourth place. Immediately after the start at Montpellier, a breakaway group of 14 riders led other bikers for a long time. They gained more than 15 minutes on the peleton that included Froome and Quintanna. At the climb, however, the leading group fell apart to yield a chance to those trailing behind. 6 kilometers from the finish line, Quitanna attacked Froome and went ahead. The Brit remained unfazed and guided by his Team Sky mates, went after Quintanna. Froome was also joined by BMC racing’s Richie Porte, Trek-Seafredo’s Bauke Mollema, Ag2r-La-Mondiale’s Romain Bardet and Orica-Bike-Exchange rider Adam Yates. But Froome led from Porte and Mollema, just before the crash drama unfolded.
As Froome, Porte and Mollema climbed towards the finish line at Chalet Reynard, Porte couldn’t help ramming the back of a motorbike that had to suddenly apply brakes because of an unruly crowd encroaching on the road. Since they were close, Froome and Mollema also went down. Froome saw his badly damaged bike and began running to the finish line. He tried to use a neutral service bike before switching to another bike from the Team Sky car after about 200 meters. However, the defending champion lost too much time and reached the finish line one minute 40 seconds behind Yates. However, Mollema could recover his bike and finished the race normally. When the race ended, Lotto-Soudal rider Thomas De Gendt was the 12th stage winner and Froome had slipped to the sixth spot in overall standings and 53 seconds behind Adam Yates. Later however, race organizers reviewed the dramatic finish and gave Froome and Porte the same time as Mollema. That resulted in the restoration of Froome’s race leadership status before Friday’s stage-13. As per the International Governing Body of Cycling, UCI, a cyclist can cross the line on foot only if he has a bike with him. With the favorable Jury verdict on Froome’s case, the defending champion now leads by 47 seconds over Yates with Mollema third at 56 seconds behind and Quintana fourth, 61 seconds adrift.
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