CHAMBERY, France (AP) — The Tour de France threw the kitchen sink at Chris Froome: steep mountain ascents adopted by daredevil descents at speeds exceeding 70 kilometers (45 miles) per hour that worn out different riders, the lack of his high teammate in a crash, a breakdown on his bike, and rivals who tried to make him crack with bursts of acceleration.

However essentially the most grueling, drama-filled day up to now of this 104th Tour completed, but once more, with Froome nonetheless carrying the race chief’s yellow jersey. By surviving Stage 9 that put 12 riders out of the race, and left others bloodied and bandaged, the three-time champion took a giant step towards a fourth victory in Paris on July 23.

With seven ascents that collectively amounted to four,600 meters (15,000 toes) of climbing — greater than half the peak of Everest — this was the “monster stage” that Froome had predicted it might be. It separated real contenders for victory from easy pretenders. At the beginning Sunday, eight riders had been inside a minute of Froome within the total standings. Now, simply three are.

Amongst high names gone utterly: Richie Porte and Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas, who led the Tour for its first 4 days. Each crashed out.

Porte, who had been fifth total, was zooming downhill in pursuit of Froome when he missed a left-hand bend, cartwheeled throughout the street and shocked one other rider, Dan Martin, earlier than slamming right into a stony, vine-covered financial institution.

Medics first handled the Australian on the tarmac after which took him to a hospital the place he was identified with a fractured pelvis and collarbone.

Fabio Baldato, one of many administrators of Porte’s BMC crew, mentioned the rider had shoulder ache however “was at all times aware. He knew what occurred and was asking for his helmet and his glasses.”

Thomas broke his collarbone.

The crashes took a number of the shine off what in any other case was a powerful present of resilience from Froome. He positioned third within the stage, narrowly crushed in a remaining dash by Colombian Rigoberto Uran on the end in Chambery, within the Alps. French rider Warren Barguil was simply millimeters behind in second place — so shut that he burst into tears pondering he had gained, solely to find moments later that he hadn’t.

For his third place, Froome was awarded 4 bonus seconds that allowed him to consolidate his total lead. With Thomas, who had been in second place, now out, Italian Fabio Aru climbed to second spot within the race rankings — 18 seconds behind Froome total. French rider Romain Bardet, runner-up to Froome final yr, is third total, 51 seconds behind Froome. The one different rider inside a minute of Froome is Uran, who jumped from 11th to fourth total, 55 seconds behind the chief.

Uran thought Barguil had crushed him to the road. It was a second of confusion aptly becoming for a day of racing so chaotic that it was troublesome at instances to maintain observe of all of the drama, as riders scattered like leaves over the 181.5-kilometer (112-mile) stage — seven of them falling up to now again that they missed the time minimize and at the moment are out of the Tour.

Towards the entrance, Froome had a disaster of his personal. With terrible timing, the Briton survived a breakdown of his bike gears on the final, massively robust climb that pressured him to vary machines simply when he was using furiously in a bunch with different high contenders.

As Froome was frantically signaling to members of his crew following in a automobile that he was in bother, Aru select that actual second to speed up away, adopted by different high challengers, together with Porte.

For a couple of moments, Froome’s Tour gave the impression to be hanging by a thread.

However Aru and the others then slowed reasonably than press house their benefit — apparently adhering to the Tour’s unwritten rule that challengers should not assault the race chief when he is in problem not of his personal making.

With a substitute bike and teammates who waited for him, Froome floor his method again into the pack. Greater up the climb, he appeared to swerve throughout the street and nudge Aru together with his proper shoulder.

However the Briton mentioned that was purely unintended, “a little bit of a wobble,” not an try and reprimand the Italian for his earlier assault.

“It was under no circumstances a swipe at Aru,” Froome mentioned.

“I wish to say ‘thanks’ to the opposite riders for not attacking,” Froome mentioned. “They waited till I had modified bikes. That is sporting and pleasing to see.”

Aru was using proper behind Froome when the Tour chief raised his hand to indicate that he was in bother. Nonetheless, the Italian insisted that he hadn’t seen Froome’s hand sign, and that it had at all times been his intention to assault at that spot on the climb, with about six kilometers (four miles) left to ascend on the Mont du Chat.

“Then I heard on the radio that Froome had stopped,” Aru mentioned. “Once I heard it on the radio then I finished.”

Of the day’s seven notable ascents, three had the hardest “hors categorie” (past classification) ranking on biking’s sliding scale of climbing problem. Not since 2011 had organizers shoehorned three such climbs into the identical stage.

Froome summed it up in a phrase: “Brutal.”

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