Chris Froome set for third Tour de France win after Mont Blanc drama

Chris Froome set for third Tour de France win after Mont Blanc drama
Britain's Chris Froome, wearing his torn overall leader's yellow jersey, bleeds after crashing during the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France. Picture: AP

A day of drama on Friday came as a reminder of how quickly the Tour de France can change, but also why Chris Froome appears destined for a third title this weekend.

The Team Sky rider crashed late on the damp, treacherous 146km stage 19 from Albertville to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, finishing the stage with his yellow jersey torn and bloodied.

But for the second time in this Tour, Froome emerged from a crash in yellow with his overall lead increased, this time by 19 seconds.

Trek-Segafredo's Bauke Mollema had started the day in second but crashed once and almost went off the road completely in a second incident, ultimately giving up almost four and a half minutes to tumble down to 10th place.

He was replaced on the second step of the podium by Friday's stage winner Romain Bardet, four minutes and 11 seconds behind Froome, while Nairo Quintana moved up to third, a further 16 seconds back.

The Colombian moved ahead of Britain's Adam Yates, whose podium hopes appeared to crack on the final climb after a long day struggling to hold to the main contenders.

Riders were hitting the deck with regularity after rain began to fall in the final 50km of the stage, but it was Froome's crash which threatened to define the day.

It came on a descent inside the last 15km, with Astana's Vincenzo Nibali also coming down.

"It is ironic really as I was just trying to stay up front," Froome said.

"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 is 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."

Froome was quickly back on his feet but had to swap bikes with team-mate Geraint Thomas before being able to continue.

"I could see Froome on the front and he was saying chill on the radio but he doesn't do chill, does he?" Thomas said.

"All of a sudden he's on the floor and going 'I need a bike, I need a bike', so I gave him mine. Then I waited for the team car although they did drive past me.

"I wasn't going to run to the finish but luckily they stopped a few hundred metres later and I got on this (bike), and that was that."

Such has been Froome's dominance that this Tour appeared over as a contest until the rain came as a reminder that everything can change in a flash.

The forecast for Saturday's mountain finale from Megeve to Morzine is for more rain, which will make the technical descent to the finish line a potential game-changer.

"Tomorrow is going to be really hard and I am sure I will be a bit sore and stiff after today," Froome said.

"Hopefully I can rely on my team-mates for one last push to get through tomorrow's stage."

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