Chris Froome and Team Sky took control of the Tour de France on Stage 9, as Froome’s general classification rival Richie Porte (BMC), Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas and many other riders crashed out of the race.
A very difficult day on the mountains saw Froome need a bike change but recover to take a commanding lead in the Tour as Porte and Thomas crashed violently.
Attacks from AG2R, who early in the stage were leading the breakaway group and the peloton, decimated the peloton on the Queen stage — the hardest of the race.
On the descent on the Col de la Biche, the first of three hors categorie climbs on the stage, the French team laid devastation on the Tour, with Geraint Thomas crashing out of the race after suffering a suspected broken collarbone as Team Sky looked to reel in the attack.
With AG2R attacking downhill, there were a number of crashes, and Thomas was joined in withdrawing by Robert Gesink (Lotto) and Manuele Mori (UAE Team Emirates), whose awful crash saw him crying out in agony on the ground.
The attacking saw the peloton stretched over 30 kilometres, and former stage winner Arnaud Démare struggling at the rear of the race.
With just over 30 kilometres remaining, Chris Froome had a mechanical error and had to change bikes. Seeing his general classification rival suffer, Fabio Aru (Astana) attacked.
Although the group went with Aru, they neutralised the Astana rider, and allowed Froome to get back into the group.
After numerous attacks including from Aru and Porte, Froome dropped the other GC rivals, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Aru unable to stay with the three-time Tour de France winner.
On descent of Mont du Chat, the final hors categorie, Porte crashed and skidded across the road and into the side of the mountain wall, with Daniel Martin (Quickstep) unable to avoid crashing into him.
Porte was taken by ambulance to hospital as Froome raced to pull in Romain Bardet (AG2R) at the front, which he did with 2 kilometres to go.
With a kilometre to go, Froome took the lead of a group of six but was beaten in the sprint as Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) held off Warren Barguil (Sunweb) and Froome to win the stage.
Yellow Jersey Classification
1. Chris Froome 38h 26′ 59”
2. Fabio Aru +18”
3. Romain Bardet +51”
King of the Mountains (Points)
1. Warren Barguil 60
2. Primoz Roglic 30
3. Alexis Vuillermoz 27
Green Jersey (Points)
1. Marcel Kittel 212
2. Arnaud Demare 182
3. Michael Matthews 160