Wednesday 22 November 2017

WATCH: Ireland's Dan Martin involved in nasty crash in Tour de France but battles on

Australia's Richie Porte receives medical assistance after crashing with Dan Martin
Australia's Richie Porte receives medical assistance after crashing with Dan Martin

Rigoberto Uran won a chaotic, crash-strewn stage nine of the Tour de France which saw Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte abandon the race while Chris Froome came home third to retain the yellow jersey.

Cannondale-Drapac's Uran took victory in a photo finish ahead of Warren Barguil of Team Sunweb - one final twist of drama on a day that will live long in Tour history.

Team Sky's Thomas suffered a suspected broken collarbone in a crash on the damp descent of the Col de la Biche, while BMC's Porte went down in a frightening incident on the descent of the Mont du Chat - the last of seven categorised climbs on a brutal stage.

It all came down to a rare sprint finish between general classification contenders, with AG2R La Mondiale's Romain Bardet fourth and Fabio Aru of Astana fifth.

With four bonus seconds on the line for third place, Froome extended his lead over Aru to 18 seconds. However, he has lost his rear-gunner as Thomas started the day second overall.

Bardet is up to third overall, 51 seconds down, four seconds ahead of former Team-Sky man Uran who catapulted up the standings with the win.

Irishman Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) was caught in the crash that ended Porte's race and then came down again later in the descent, losing fourth place as he slipped to sixth, one minute and 44 seconds down, 18 seconds ahead of seventh-place Simon Yates of Orica-Scott.

The crashes were not the only cause of drama.

Froome suffered a mechanical problem on the Mont du Chat, the last of three hors categorie climbs on the day, and as the three-time Tour winner was calling for the team car Aru attacked in a clear breach of cycling's protocol.

The other general classification contenders followed the Italian, but seemingly in order to remonstrate with him and tell him to wait.

Froome soon caught back up after a bike change but made his feelings known to Aru as he gave the Astana man a nudge after a corner.

Soon after that, two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador was dropped by the group of contenders, and Colombian Nairo Quintana soon followed, apparent confirmation that his bid to do the Giro d'Italia and Tour double have left him short of his best form.

Quintana would finish in the group that included Martin and Yates, one minute and 15 seconds behind Uran, while Contador shipped more than four minutes.

While Froome will be relieved to have safely completed a stage filled with hazards, the loss of Thomas could be hugely significant with Team Sky left weakened.

It was a fourth crash of the race for Thomas, who spent four days in the yellow jersey after winning the opening time trial in Dusseldorf last weekend.

He had crashed twice while wearing the yellow jersey, first in an incident which also brought Froome down on stage two and secondly in a pile-up in Mondorf-les-Bains, moments before the crash which ended Mark Cavendish's participation in the Tour.

On Saturday's stage eight to Station des Rousses, Thomas and Froome went into a corner too fast on a descent, with Thomas hitting a hay bale and taking the scab off a wound suffered in one of the earlier crashes.

The 31-year-old had come into the Tour after his bid to win the Giro d'Italia in May ended following a crash - caused by a police motorbike - on stage nine to Blockhaus.

Porte and Thomas join a list of star names to have left this year's Tour before Monday's first rest day, following Mark Cavendish, Alejandro Valverde and Peter Sagan - the latter disqualified - out of the race.

Press Association

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