Bardet lights up Tour, Froome crashes but retains lead

Fri Jul 22, 2016 12:25pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

SAINT-GERVAIS-LES-BAINS, France (Reuters) - Chris Froome hit the deck but retained the overall leader's yellow jersey in the Tour de France on the 19th stage, a crash-marred 146-km mountain trek won by Frenchman Romain Bardet in vintage style on Friday.

The Briton fell about 13.5km 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 the 25-year-old Bardet then lit up the race with an attack on the tricky descent towards the foot of the final ascent to Le Bettex, Froome crashed on a right-hand bend.

He was quickly back on Geraint Thomas's bike and held firm in the favorites' 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 9.8km 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.

Colombian Nairo Quintana, runner-up in 2013 and 2015, is now third overall, 4:27 off the pace with one competitive stage left on Saturday, a 146.5-km mountain ride from Megeve to Morzine.   Continued...

Cycling - Tour de France cycling race - Stage 18 from Sallanches to Megeve, France - 21/07/2016 - Yellow jersey leader Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain reacts on the podium after winning the stage.    REUTERS/Juan Medina