Tour de France 2017: Froome loses ‘rear-gunner’ Thomas after brutal stage

A spectator holds a flare as stage winner Colombia's Rigoberto Uran and Britain's Chris Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, climb during the ninth stage of the Tour de France (Picture: Christophe Ena/AP).
A spectator holds a flare as stage winner Colombia's Rigoberto Uran and Britain's Chris Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, climb during the ninth stage of the Tour de France (Picture: Christophe Ena/AP).
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Rigoberto Uran won a chaotic, incident-strewn stage nine of the Tour de France that saw Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte crash out while Chris Froome came home third and extended his lead in the yellow jersey.

Uran took victory in a photo finish ahead of Warren Barguil, one final twist of drama on a day that will live long in Tour history.

Thomas suffered a broken collarbone in a crash on the damp descent of the Col de la Biche, while Porte went down in a frightening incident on the descent of the Mont du Chat, the last of seven categorised climbs on a brutal 181.5km stage from Nantua to Chambery.

Stage honours were decided by 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.

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.

Porte was taken straight to hospital from the mountainside after a horrific high-speed crash.

The Australian had run onto the grass on the inside of a corner, then slid across the road into an embankment, taking out Martin as he went.

BMC sports director Fabio Baldpate said Porte had remained conscious throughout.

“He had a lot of pain, but we need to wait for the doctors,” he said. “What was important, he was always conscious, he knew what happened. He was asking for his helmet, his glasses.”

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 veered into the Astana man after a corner.

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