Chris Froome's crash during stage 19 on the roads below Mont Blanc on Friday showed just how vulnerable the yellow jersey lead can be in the Tour de France. Team Sky say that they have to stay focused with only two more days remaining.
Froome fell on the wet roads descending to the final Le Bettex climb at 11.2 kilometres to race. Rips on the right back of his jersey showed cuts and blood and above on his should, blood soaked through the yellow top.
"It's the same for any rider in the yellow jersey at the Tour a couple of days from the Champs-Élysées," Sky sports director Nicolas Portal said. "There's always the risk of a bad crash or a mechanical problem, and like today.
"There were lots of things happening in the race today. Richie Porte fell, Mollema fell. There were lots of crashes. These are things that you can't plan, and that's part of the beauty of our sport. You always have to be focused until the last day here."
Froome's race lead, which actually grew to 19 seconds to 4-11 over Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) still appears secure with only one more mountain day in the Alps before the race travels north to finish with a flat stage in Paris.
"I think in the end, if he has a good night, with the physio and everything, he should be OK," Froome's mountain helper, Wout Poels said.
"I hope it's only a few scratches. If he can finish today, still in the front, after that crash, then I'm not really worried. It should be OK. One more day of fighting and hopefully he should be OK."
Team Sky's looked at its weakest today than it has for the last three weeks since the Tour began in Normandy. Froome scrambled, took Geraint Thomas's bike and raced ahead with Sergio Henao, Mikel Landa and Poels. At one point, with BMC Racing on the front for Richie Porte, it even appeared that he could be struggling to maintain his position.
Sky's Portal explained that it was a "really intense" moment
"The main thing," Portal added, "was to get to the top without losing too much time and he still has an advantage so he didn't panic."
"The only thing was that he was on the bike of Geraint, but he didn't lose too much time in the end and I think he did a good job to come back," said Poels, who paced Froome through the final metres of the 9.8-kilometre finishing climb.
"I know we had a few minutes in hand but you know when you crash it can be really easily over. But I think Chris did a good job to come back and fight for his position, and he didn't in the end lose too many seconds."
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