Chris Froome was forced to run up Mont Ventoux on stage 12 of the Tour de France after being taken out in a crash, but the Team Sky rider actually extended his lead. Froome had attacked with Bauke Mollema and Richie Porte, and all three were held up when the latter smashed into the back of a static camera bike and brought down the other two. Mollema carried on ahead but Froome had to wait for the neutral service vehicle to get a new bike, and stopped again to get another bike from the Team Sky car before eventually crossing the line 6:45 down on stage winner Thomas De Gendt.
Froome lost over a minute to fellow Brit Adam Yates, but the race commissaires later decided to award him and Porte the same time as Mollema, meaning Froome ends up 47 seconds ahead after adding 19 seconds to his advantage.
De Gendt of Lotto-Soudal had broken clear of a three-man leading group, also including Serge Pauwels riding for Dimension Data and Cofidis’ Daniel Navarro , to claim victory on the shortened stage finishing at Chalet Reynard, instead of the summit of Mont Ventoux.
But the real drama was happening further down the mountain where Froome, Porte and Mollema had broken away from the remaining general classification riders, including Britain’s Yates and Nairo Quintana, who had failed with a couple of attacks. The trio were gaining time hand over fist when they reached a section particularly packed with spectators, with the riders only having one line to follow up the middle of the road. The crash occurred when one of the camera bikes was forced to stop suddenly, Porte smashing almost straight into the lens and bringing down Froome and Mollema directly behind him.
Mollema was able to get up and carry on riding, but Froome’s bike was too badly damaged and he ran with it for a while before dropping it on the side of the road and running on solo. Yates and the remaining leaders all rode past and the Orica-Bike Exchange rider finished 10th on the stage, 5:24 behind De Gendt.
Froome eventually got on to a bike he was able to ride and finished alongside Team Sky team-mate Sergio Henao, a further minute and 19 seconds behind. Yates stood to be in yellow by nine seconds from Mollema until race organisers confirmed the change in times for the fallen trio, with Froome 47 seconds ahead of Yates and 1:01 on chief rival Quintana, who is fourth.
The Tour continues tomorrow with a 37.5km individual time trial on stage 13.
Stage 12 result
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal, 4:31:51
2 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data, +2sec
3 Daniel Navarro (Esp) Cofidis, +14
4 Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling, +40
5 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie, same time
6 Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, +2:52
7 Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension Data, +3:13
8 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo, +3:26
9 Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Fortuneo-Vital Concept, +4:23
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, +5:05
19 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, st
25 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
11 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, +5:24
17 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +5:24
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 57:11:33
2 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-BikeExchange, +47sec
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +54
4 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, +56
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1:15
6 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +1:32
7 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, same time
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, +1:54
9 Dan Martin (Irl) Etixx – Quick-Step, +1:56
10 Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, +2:11