Sunday 22 April 2018

Froome fumes at Contador for 'taking too many risks'

Race leader's yellow jersey holder Team Sky rider Christopher Froome
Race leader's yellow jersey holder Team Sky rider Christopher Froome

Alasdair Fotheringham

Chris Froome's rollercoaster ride as Tour de France leader has showed no signs of letting up as both he and arch rival Alberto Contador came unnervingly close to a major crash that could have cost the Briton his lead.

The stage win was no longer up for grabs – that went to breakaway Rui Costa of Portugal – but if Froome thought the yellow jersey group behind Costa was in for a calm day, he was sorely mistaken.

Instead Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez began the process of shredding the leader's group on the final ascent of the Col de Manse and then further attacks by Contador and his team-mate Roman Kreuziger reduced it to half a dozen riders, including Froome.

Then, as Contador and Froome were descending at very high speed to the finish at Gap they both skidded badly on a right-hand bend – Contador because of his excessively fast speed as he tried to shake off Froome, Froome because he was right behind the Spaniard and could not avoid him.

Skidded

Neither suffered major injuries – Contador fell and banged his right knee and could continue; Froome juddered along the side of the road before stopping.

But no one needed reminding that on the same notoriously dangerous descent, just a few corners below, 10 years ago triple Tour podium finisher Joseba Beloki had skidded and fallen during the Tour, suffering multiple fractures in his hip, right leg and shoulder, injuries that effectively cost the Basque his career.

Nerves were understandably on edge afterwards and while Contador gave an ironic thumbs-up to Nairo Quintana – "for continuing to drive hard down the descent after I'd fallen" – Froome slated Contador "for really taking risks".

"Alberto fell and took himself down and I had to go off the road to avoid him and it took me a few seconds to recorrect myself," he said.

"It's one of those crazy things; one second you're going for the finish and to get the win, the next you're lying in a ditch and wondering how you got there. One little accident and it's the end of the Tour."

Froome said he had been "purposely trying to lay off a bit" on the descent, given its dangerous reputation, "and at the same time trying to keep up with them (Kreuziger and Contador)... it was taking too many risks, he went a little bit too fast and he couldn't even control his own speed". (© Independent News Service)

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