Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas overshooting a corner in the 2017 Tour de France‘s stage eight to Station de Rousses, with the latter somersaulting into a hay bale, stands as “a reminder that things can go wrong in a second”.
The incident happened in a right-hand curve with nearly 45 kilometres to race. Sky’s Froome steered his bike through the dirt and gravel without falling, but his Welsh team-mate fell and bloodied his knee
“This is a little reminder of how quickly things can change in the Tour,” Froome said. “One moment you are in the race and everything is going well, next thing you are in a ditch. It is the nature of the race, and it’s scary.”
— ITV Cycling (@itvcycling) July 8, 2017
Thomas just returned from picking up some water bottles from the team. Sky seemingly had the race under control with the escape group around 2-55 minutes ahead. From that group, Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) eventually won the medium mountain stage.
“You think about all the things that could happen in a race, but you never foresee anything like that. That could be the moment that ends your race.”
In 2014, Froome crashed when a rider swerved towards him and abandoned the next day due to falls on the wet roads. Today the three-time Tour winner fared better.
“I didn’t come down,” Froome added. “I just went off the road and had to come back again.”
Watch: Tour de France 2017 stage eight highlights
Thomas fell, but says the blood on his knee “looks worse than what it is.” He fell twice already in this Tour while wearing the yellow jersey.
“I went back for bottles, just got back to the front. The boys went in [to the curve] a bit hot,” Thomas said. “I’d just looked back, and I was a second late to start braking and off the road.
“It’s like, ‘Do you go down into the woods or hit the hay bale?’ So I chose the hay bale. I just flipped over the bars and luckily I was right back up, so I was fine. It was a better option than down into the woods.”
Thomas looked down at the blood coming from his knee.
“It’s the same scab from a couple of days ago [on his left knee] and so that just came off,” he added. “It’s all just superficial, when I was on the bike it was OK and I felt fine.”
Sky has been fighting through the first week with the leader’s jersey – first with Thomas and now with Froome – when the race is typically more stressful and throws more curveballs.
Today, riders fought constantly to make the escape. One did not form until late into the race through the Jura Mountains, and given the threat of men like Mathias Frank (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale), Sky sent its men Mikel Landa and Sergio Henao into the move.
“It was a solid day, it was one of those days when we were riding hard on the climb and it’s hard for everyone then,” Thomas said. “Luckily we had a strong group to control and two guys up front who were fairly up there on GC as well. Then it all came back together and we had numbers for the finish, so it was perfect really.”
Froome says that apart from the Galibier stage and Izoard stage in the third week, Sunday’s stage nine will be the toughest on the 2017 menu.
“I expect the GC to get blown right open tomorrow,” Froome continued.
“Given where Mont du Chat is in the stage, coming off the four big climbs already – and especially after the stage we just had today – I think it could be a very decisive climb of the Tour.
“When climbing it, the gradient is around 10 per cent. It is not a short climb either. It takes half an hour to get up there, around 35 minutes. We could see some really big differences knowing from there we have the descent and the flat run.”