Saint-Gervais, France, July 22, 2016 (AFP) – 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 23sec 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 in order to continue to the finish, with his jersey ripped.
He finished ninth at just 36sec 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 4min 26sec after Bardet and dropping to 10th overall.
Young Briton Adam Yates also struggled in the final few kilometers and lost his third pace to Nairo Quintana.
Bardet is now second at 4:11, with Quintana at 4:27, Yates at 4:36 and Richie Porte at 5:17 in a thrilling battle for the minor podium positions.
Porte had been climbing well all Tour but also crashed on the final descent and had to chase back up to the group of favorites before cracking in the final kilometer.
He came over the line 10th at 53sec, a few seconds ahead of Yates.
– Carnage –
A 20-man breakaway group took off from the start and quickly built up a lead of more than four minutes.
But the Astana team of Fabio Aru had other ideas and took up pace-setting duties in the peloton to limit the advantage, bringing it down to just 2min 30sec with 60km left.
With podium places up for grabs, Aru wanted not only the stage win, but also the time bonus on the line that would bring.
As the breakaway went over the 12.4km hors category Montee de Bisanne, rain started to fall making the road slippery.
Frenchman Pierre Rolland attacked on the descent but crashed, leaving Rui Costa, the only man to have followed him, alone in the lead.
With 30km left, Costa had opened up a lead of almost a minute on the remnants of the breakaway with the peloton at 1:45.
Porte got into trouble on the downhill and lost 45sec to the pack, but three BMC team-mates slowed up to help pace him back into the peloton.
The Astana-led peloton passed the chasers with 25km left as Costa’s lead was now 1:15.
The rain was causing havoc on the final descent before the Saint Gervais Mont Blanc climb to the finish with several riders crashing, including Froome.
With all the carnage, Bardet took the opportunity to attack, helped by team-mate Mikael Cherel, although he almost clipped a parked car.
Mollema was the worst affected of the riders who crashed and quickly lost significant time.
The crashes helped Portugal’s Costa stay clear but Bardet caught him with just under 8km left.
Froome seemed to be struggling at the back of the peloton but was soon in his usual position at the front behind his super-domestique Wouter Poels.
With just over 3km left Costa lost contact with Bardet but the peloton was now at just 30sec.
Dan Martin and Porte both tried attacking but neither could stay clear, although Yates started to lose contact with the favorites.
In the final kilometer it all broke up as the standings were turned on their head.
– Results in the 19th stage of the Tour of France, a 146km ride from Albertville to Le Bettex on Friday:
1. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 146.0 km in 4h14min 08sec
(average: 34,5 km/h)
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) at 0:23.
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 0:23.
4. Louis Meintjies (RSA/LAM) 0:23.
5. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:26.
6. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 0:28.
7. Daniel Martin (IRL/ETI) 0:28.
8. Wout Poels (NED/SKY) 0:36.
9. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 0:36.
10. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC) 0:53.
11. Jon Izagirre (ESP/MOV) 0:53.
12. Mikel Landa (ESP/SKY) 0:53.
13. Adam Yates (GBR/ORI) 0:56.
14. Warren Barguil (FRA/GIA) 1:17.
15. Rui Costa (POR/LAM) 1:52.
16. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) 1:57.
17. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/TIN) 1:58.
18. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC) 3:00.
19. Stef Clement (NED/IAM) 3:10.
20. Jarlinson Pantano (COL/IAM) 3:52.
21. Diego Rosa (ITA/AST) 3:52.
22. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 3:52.
23. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 4:26.
24. Emanuel Buchmann (GER/BOA) 4:42.
25. Daniel Moreno (ESP/MOV) 4:49.
26. Cyril Gautier (FRA/ALM) 6:08.
27. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 6:13.
28. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 6:33.
29. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP/TRE) 6:33.
30. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 6:33.
31. Tony Gallopin (FRA/LOT) 7:49.
32. Pierre Rolland (FRA/CAN) 7:54.
33. Mickaël Cherel (FRA/ALM) 8:20.
34. Mikel Nieve (ESP/SKY) 8:43.
35. Daryl Impey (RSA/ORI) 9:03.
36. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 9:07.
37. Sébastien Reichenbach (SUI/FDJ) 9:33.
38. Amaël Moinard (FRA/BMC) 11:04.
39. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/KAT) 11:43.
40. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ/AST) 11:43.
41. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 11:43.
42. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/TIN) 11:43.
43. Kristijan Durasek (CRO/LAM) 11:43.
44. Eduardo Sepulveda (ARG/FVC) 11:43.
45. Peter Stetina (USA/TRE) 11:53.
46. Steve Morabito (SUI/FDJ) 12:34.
47. Romain Sicard (FRA/DEN) 13:13.
48. Fabrice Jeandesboz (FRA/DEN) 13:13.
49. Alberto Losada (ESP/KAT) 13:30.
50. Vasil Kiryienka (BLR/SKY) 13:36.
– Who’s been saying what at the Tour de France after Friday’s 19th stage won by Romain Bardet:
“Ironically, I was trying to stay safe but I hit one of the white lines and lost my front wheel.”
Race leader Chris Froome explains how tough the rainy conditions were on Friday’s 19th stage.
“I’m not going to give up, that’s for sure and if I’m on the podium in Paris, it will be a fairytale.”
Stage winner Romain Bardet starts dreaming of Paris after moving up to second over all.
“I’m not too badly injured, just a hip and elbow. The classification is gone. I’m tenth now, but that was not the goal.”
Bauke Mollema, who started the day second, laments his ruined race after crashing twice.
“More than condition, I profited from my class today. Class never leaves you. At some point in the race, I even thought about withdrawing.”
Nairo Quintana, who moved up to third after avoiding all the crashes, reveals that his mystery “allergy” is still causing him problems.
“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 luckly they stopped a few hundred metres later.”
Froome’s Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas explains how he helped save his team leader’s race, while joking about Froome’s infamous run up Mont Ventoux.
“It was such a hard day. It was a mess in the final. Everyone kind of came down.”
One of many riders to crash, Australian Richi Porte talks about the carnage.
“I’m enjoying this race, even considering the suffering a Tour de France puts on us. I’m enjoying every single minute of this.”
Quintana’s Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde seems oblivious to the general suffering.
“Dear friends, only a few bruises from today’s fall, a little bit of pain in the right side of my back and the glutes!!”
Vincenzo Nibali explains on Twitter what part of his body was injured in his fall.
“Most combative of the day, a small trophy for so much effort.”
Rui Costa seems unimpressed with his reward for being elected the most attacking rider of the day.
“From first x-ray it seems that @tom_dumoulin has a fracture in his left radius. Now scan at hospital and full check up.”
Trek break the bad news on Twitter that time-trial specialist Tom Dumoulin may miss the Olympics due to a broken wrist suffered in his crash.
“Romain Bardet (with thumbs up, champagne and French flag emoticons)”
Bryan Coquard gets patriotic on Twitter after Bardet, not a team-mate of his, wins the first stage for a Frenchman at this year’s Tour.