In a wild sight on Thursday at the Tour de France, race leader Chris Froome had to run up the storied Mont Ventoux climb after an incident with a motorcycle left him without a bike.
It immediately put his race lead in jeopardy.
The crash, which involved an official race motorcycle, left riders hitting the ground and Froome desperately sprinting up the road to save his yellow jersey.
Reports said the motorbike had to stop suddenly after being slowed by spectators crowding the road. Right after, the riders coming up behind the motorbike — led by Aussie rider Richie Porte — rammed into the back of it and went down. It was a mad scene:
We can’t recall seeing anything quite like this scene before.
At risk of losing time, Froome started running up the climb among the fanatical spectators.
At one point Froome ran with his broken bike:
It appears the rear wheel had come off:
Social media blew up with images of Froome sprinting up the climb.
The pictures were surreal-looking:
American cyclist and Tour rider Peter Stetina voiced his frustration over what had happened.
Initial reports said Froome, the reigning Tour champ, had lost the race lead to his British compatriot Adam Yates. But the AFP later reported that Froome had kept hold of the lead after organisers reinstated him.
Froome now has a lead of 47 seconds over Yates.
The jury opted to apply the “3-kilometer rule” normally used in mass sprint finishes, AFP said, which neutralizes times in the run-in to the line in case of a crash or technical incident. It means Froome and Porte were given the same time as Bauke Mollema, the first to get up and finish from their group.
All three therefore gained 19 seconds on the next batch of favourites, who were also held up by the crash as they rode into a bottleneck caused by blocked motorcycles and cars.
Froome therefore extended his lead with his main rival, Colombian Nairo Quintana, now third at 54 seconds; Mollema fourth at 56 seconds; and young Frenchman Romain Bardet fifth at 1:15 ahead of Friday’s 37-kilometer time trial.
“What a finish,” Froome said. “Ventoux is full of surprises. Around the last kilometer a motorbike braked hard,” he added 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, AFP reported.
“It is what it is — I’m really happy with the outcome,” the 23-year-old Briton said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to take the jersey like this.
“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,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, but you have to stay calm. Richie (Porte), Chris (Froome) and (Bauke) 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.”
The Tour is the world’s biggest bike race and one of the largest annual sporting events.
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