Froome comes out strengthened from the 9th stage

Horrible crash on mountain descent takes out top Tour de France riders

At least he's still in one piece, though.

The Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider not only survived the chaotic stage nine, which claimed race hopefuls Richie Porte (BMC) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), but made big moves up the general classification standings following his seventh placing behind stage victor Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), on Monday morning (NZT).

As the racers reached the foot of the mountain, Fuglsang, Froome, Warren Barguil, compatriot Romain Bardet, Fabio Aru and Rigoberto Uran - who himself had a faulty chain on his bike - headed for a grandstand finish in front of the thousands that lined the roads.

Bardet is up to third, with Uran fourth after his stage win. He crossed the line with a delay of 1 min 15 sec and confessed: "The forces are beginning to miss it after the bet we made this year" (a double Giro and Tour).

But Aru and the others then slowed rather than press home their advantage - apparently adhering to the Tour's unwritten rule that challengers shouldn't attack the race leader when he's in difficulty not of his own making.

BMC sports director Fabio Baldato said the 32-year-old remained concious throughout despite the horrifying nature of the crash. "It's a lot more spread out now".

After an enthralling climb up Mont du Chat near the Swiss border, during which Porte threatened to ride away from primary rival Chris Froome on several occasions, the Australian began a long downhill section. He never recovered from the two minutes lost, and while Porte ultimately managed an admirable fifth overall, his best-ever performance at the race offered little consolation. Team Sky confirmed that he is now out of the Tour de France, a huge blow for teammate Chris Froome.

"Of course my team-mate Geraint as well, he crashed out with a broken collarbone so I've definitely got mixed feelings after that stage".

Individually Froome, meanwhile, had had an eventful but eventually profitable stage. The most grueling, drama-filled day so far of this Tour finished with Froome still wearing the race leader's yellow jersey. Froome now leads him by 18 seconds overall.

Rest days, however, are not just for resting. "Based on Richie's recovery, we will re-evaluate his program for the rest of the season in consultation with BMC Racing Team management".

"So what you're doing is based on theory and anecdote".

"It's a big move up on the general classification", said Uran. "It's the same as turning the engine off".

"You can not always wait when a rider has a mechanical problem", said Jakob Fuglsang, who counter-attacked later.

"It's like studying hard for exams".



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