MONT VENTOUX, France — Chris Froome risked losing the yellow jersey after his bike was broken in a bizarre crash at the wild conclusion to the 12th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday.
In an embarrassment for race organizers on Bastille Day, Richie Porte crashed into a motorbike carrying a TV camera, and Froome, who was following right behind his former teammate, also crashed in the final kilometer on the wind-shortened climb to Mont Ventoux.
Froome threw his bike aside and began running up the road instead. He eventually was given a small yellow race assistance bike before his team car was finally able to provide him with a suitable substitute.
All of Froome’s main rivals crossed ahead of him, while he shook his head in disbelief as he crossed the line.
It wasn’t immediately clear if race officials would neutralize the finish and enable Froome to keep the lead. Minutes later, race officials listed Froome to still be in the lead, while there was no official explanation on the ruling.
“Awaiting jury decision,” Froome tweeted, but later added: “Still in the (hash)YellowJersey.”
As Froome ran through the crowds, he attempted to communicate with his team with his radio but the crowds prevented the Team Sky car from reaching him.
“It was a nightmare,” Sky sports director Nicolas Portal said. “It took up to two minutes for him to get a spare bike but the pedals did not suit him. … I can’t understand how so many people were allowed there, it was mayhem.”
Unofficial results put Adam Yates of Britain in front with a nine-second lead over Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands. Nairo Quintana was unofficially third, 14 seconds behind, while Froome dropped to sixth, 53 seconds back.
Before the crash, Froome had dropped most of his rivals other than Porte and Mollema and was likely going to add to his lead as he seeks a third title in four years.
Froome entered the stage 28 seconds ahead of Yates.
Thomas De Gendt won the stage after getting into an early breakaway and easily sprinting past fellow Belgian Serge Pauwels on the steep slopes of Ventoux.
“There were too many people in the last kilometer,” De Gendt said. “There was not even a place for one motorbike. They should do something about it.”
With the wind blowing at 125 kph (nearly 80 mph) on top of the “Giant of Provence,” organizers moved the finish line 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) down the road to the Chalet Reynard.
It was still a grueling 10-kilometer (6-mile) climb featuring several sections with gradients exceeding 10 percent.
The 178-kilometer (111-mile) leg began in Montpellier near the Mediterranean coast, passed by the 15th-century Chateau of Tarascon, and scaled the hilltop village of Gordes.
It was De Gendt’s first career stage win in the Tour. He finished third in the 2012 Giro d’Italia.
The race’s first time trial comes Friday with a hilly 37.5-kilometer (23.3-mile) leg from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont-D’Arc.