Tour de France: Running man Chris Froome keeps hold of yellow jersey despite crash chaos

Chris Froome risked losing the yellow jersey after his bike was broken in a bizarre crash at the wild conclusion to the 12th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday.

Yellow jersey leader Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain runs on the road after a fall. Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters
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MONT VENTOUX // Chris Froome kept hold of the Tour de France race leader’s yellow jersey despite a crash with a motorcycle on Thursday that threatened to wreck his race hopes.

Froome initially seemed to have lost the race lead after his bicycle was broken by the crash leaving him at one point running along the road waiting for a replacement bike.

But Tour organisers reinstated him in the lead at the end of the 12th stage which finished on Mont Ventoux, now with a 47-second lead over British compatriot Adam Yates.

“What a finish. Ventoux is full of surprises. Around the last kilometre a motorbike braked hard,” explained Froome on French TV after being presented with the yellow jersey.

“I was with Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema and all three of us went into the back of it. I got hit from behind by another motorbike that broke my bicycle.

“I’m happy with the jury’s decision. I think it’s right. Thanks to them and thanks to the Tour de France organisation.”

Yates, who was provisionally announced as the new leader, said he agreed with the race jury’s decision to change the initial results.

“It is what it is, I’m really happy with the outcome. I wouldn’t have wanted to take the jersey like this,” said the 23-year-old Briton.

“After his performances in the Tour so far he [Froome] is the rightful owner of the yellow jersey. It wouldn’t have felt right to have taken it like that.”

Froome’s Sky team manager Dave Brailsford told French TV that the decision had rewarded those who were strongest on the day.

“Fair play has won. It wasn’t easy but you have to stay calm. Richie, Chris and Mollema were the strongest today and the organisers decided to maintain the lead they had gained at the moment of the accident.

“For me, it’s a fair decision.”

See also:

• Tour de France: 'Mythical' Mont Ventoux will batter riders, and bring glory

• Tour de France results: Peter Sagan blows away field in Stage 11 as Chris Froome stretches lead

As Froome ran through the crowds he attempted to communicate with his team with his radio but the crowds prevented the Team Sky car from reaching him.

“It was a nightmare,” Sky sports director Nicolas Portal said. “It took up to two minutes for him to get a spare bike but the pedals did not suit him ... I can’t understand how so many people were allowed there, it was mayhem.”

Unofficial results put Adam Yates of Britain in front with a nine-second lead over Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands. Nairo Quintana was unofficially third, 14 seconds behind, while Froome dropped to sixth, 53 seconds back.

Before the crash, Froome had dropped most of his rivals besides Porte and Mollema and was likely going to add to his lead as he seeks a third title in four years.

Froome entered the stage 28 seconds ahead of Yates.

Thomas de Gendt won the stage after getting into an early breakaway and easily sprinting past fellow Belgian Serge Pauwels on the steep slopes of Ventoux.

“There were too many people in the last kilometre,” De Gendt said. “There was not even a place for one motorbike. They should do something about it.”

With the wind blowing at 125kph (nearly 80 mph) on top of the “Giant of Provence,” organisers moved the finish line 6km down the road to the Chalet Reynard.

It was still a gruelling 10km climb featuring several sections with gradients exceeding 10 per cent.

The 178km leg began in Montpellier near the Mediterranean coast, passed by the 15th-century Chateau of Tarascon, and scaled the hilltop village of Gordes.

It was De Gendt’s first career stage win in the Tour. He finished third in the 2012 Giro d’Italia.

The race’s first time trial comes Friday with a hilly 37.5km leg from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont-D’Arc.

Froome’s sports director at Sky, Nicolas Portal said: “We’ll wait for the jury’s decision.”

He continued: “The motorcycle couldn’t pass because of thousands of fans.

“It’s not one, two or 10 but for 200-metres there were hundreds of fans.

“It’s a behaviour ... I don’t know how to describe it.”

Froome’s main rivals, including Colombian Nairo Quintana were also held up by the crash as a throng of fans obstructed the road.

Porte hit the motorbike with Froome next and Mollema also running into the back of the vehicle.

By the time the other overall contenders reached that point, the whole road was blocked and no one could get through.

But the overriding sight of the 178km 12th stage from Montpellier to Mont Ventoux, was the yellow jersey of Froome running on foot inside the final kilometre in a desperate attempt to save his race.

Points Classification Tour de France after Stage 12 on Thursday:

1. Peter Sagan (Slovakia / Tinkoff) 309

2. Mark Cavendish (Britain / Dimension Data) 219

3. Marcel Kittel (Germany / Etixx - Quick-Step) 202

4. Bryan Coquard (France / Direct Energie) 125

5. Michael Matthews (Australia / Orica) 124

6. Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto) 114

7. Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium / BMC Racing) 112

8. Thomas De Gendt (Belgium / Lotto) 106

9. Alexander Kristoff (Norway / Katusha) 92

10. Daniel Navarro (Spain / Cofidis) 90

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