Chris Froome (Sky) was thankful he only crashed lightly in today’s Tour de France stage to Bastia. His team-mates and rivals came off much worse in the finishing chaos in the finishing chaos.
“If that’s the only crash I have this Tour,” Froome said, “then I’ll take that.”
Froome crossed the line in 41st, left shin and calf scraped, but otherwise unharmed. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) came off worse.
Sky’s captain crashed in a “tricky corner” at the start of the stage. He re-mounted, continued and only stopped for a wheel change later. The tail end, 213 kilometres up the Corsican coast, presented more dangers.
Two crashes marred the final kilometres and saw riders sliding over the roads. All the while, organisers hurriedly tried to free the Orica-GreenEdge bus, which was stuck under the finish line arch.
“I was right in the thick of it, just managed to hop up on a curb,” Sky’s Pete Kennaugh said. “Once I saw Richie [Porte] and Chris were with me, I kept going… I was right there in front of him, he managed to get through and was only held up.”
Thomas went to the medic’s truck for x-rays. He came to the bus with his left knee scraped and the back of his jersey ripped. Ian Stannard was also involved in the crash, but appears fine. All the team’s riders were later cleared to start stage two.
“I felt that guys were crashing all around me but I managed to pick my way through and chased to get back on just before the final,” Froome added.
“It’s definitely a reminder of the Tour’s traps. I didn’t think any of us expected it was going to be plain sailing today, but there were some pretty brutal crashes in the final there. It’s a reminder that this Tour is about so much more than just having the form. It’s about staying out of trouble. It’s about looking after ourselves in the peloton at the same time.”
The organisers awarded the riders caught in the crash the same time as the others. Froome finished with the same time as stage winner and race leader, Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano).
“I just heard the sound of breaking bikes and shoes going onto the road. I just saw bikes flying around and people crashing all around,” explained Froome.
“It’s easier said than done, but it’s much better to keep a cool head in those conditions and try to just find the logical way through it.”
After making it through one stage relatively unscathed, Froome faces two more Corsican stages until heading to the mainland. The team time trial in Nice should establish a pecking order and bring a bit of calm.
Ian Stannard gets caught in a crash