AFP-Jiji ST-GERVAIS-LES-BAINS, France (AFP-Jiji) — Chris Froome crashed on a slippery descent but showed grit and determination to fight on and retain his race leader’s yellow jersey at the Tour de France on Friday.
Romain Bardet earned the first stage victory for a Frenchman this year and moved up to second overall after taking advantage of the rainy 19th stage conditions in which Froome faltered.
“It’s pleasure cycling, with audacity,” enthused Bardet, who also won a stage last year. “Last year, the aim was to win a stage, this year it’s the overall,” added the AG2R rider who was sixth in 2014 and ninth last year.
Bardet finished 23 seconds ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez after attacking on a slippery and dangerous descent where several of his rivals crashed.
One such was Froome, who was lent a bike by team-mate Geraint Thomas to continue to the finish, with his jersey ripped. He finished ninth at just 36 seconds behind Bardet and even extended his overall lead.
“Today showed exactly why I thought the Tour was not over,” Froome, who sported a heavily bandaged knee on the podium, told ITV4. “I was really grateful nothing is seriously injured, but it could have gone either way.”
Dutchman Bauke Mollema, who started the day second, crashed once and skidded off the road a second time before coming home 4 minutes 26 seconds after Bardet and dropping to 10th overall.