'Rough day' for Chris Froome after crash and punctures kill best chance of victory since 2018

The 37-year-old was up the road in a solo move for over 50km at the Tour du Rwanda on Thursday

Chris Froome
(Image credit: Noa Arnon)

Two wheel changes and a crash ended Chris Froome's lengthy solo breakaway effort at the Tour du Rwanda on Thursday, one of the Israel-Premier Tech rider's best chances at victory since 2018.

The 37-year-old set off alone with more than 100km to go on stage five of the African race, in the pouring rain, in a manner that was redolent of his Giro d'Italia winning move on stage 19 in 2018.

However, despite a lead of over 30 seconds on the chasing Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and a minute over what was left of the peloton with 45km to go, Froome punctured, had two wheel changes, and crashed on a slippery descent, ending his big day out.

Speaking after his two-hour solo move on Thursday, he said that it was a "rough day" and that he was try to go into "time trial mode" for 100km to win the stage, and possible the race overall.

Froome said: "I felt that I wanted to have a crack at it. You could see the whole peloton, everyone was pegged about halfway through. I thought I'd go for it, get stuck in and see what I had in the legs. 

"The goal for me was to get over that last climb on my own and see if I could make it down to the finish."

It was the first puncture, combined with an inadequate wheel replacement, which ended Froome's effort; the crash which came later merely put a disappointing cap on what could have been a special day. However, the four-time Tour de France winner was happy with his performance afterwards.

"I wasn't far off, I think I had about a 30 to 45 second lead on the Euskatel guy behind me and about a minute and a half on the peloton," he explained. "But I got a front wheel puncture and didn't have a team car behind me, so it wasn't easy to get another wheel, I managed to get something from neutral service but it wasn't compatible, so I had to change again after that. 

"Then the peloton caught me, surged over the top of the climb, and that's where the lights went out for me."

"I was chasing with a couple of guys to try and get back on the descent," he said about the circumstances of his crash. "But I came round a corner and the Quick-Step car had stopped, one of their riders had crashed, so I came round the corner on the limit and I had to abandon the road and get off into the ditch, so I scratched myself up a little bit. 

"Thankfully I don't think there's any damage, other than ending up in the ditch."

In 2018, Froome won his last race, the Giro d'Italia, which was secured thanks to an 80km solo breakaway in the Alps, which showcased the Briton's ability to win races in a unique manner. However, five years later, after the horror crash he endured while on a recon ride of a time-trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June 2019, he looked almost like his former self. 

Since his move Ineos to Israel-Premier Tech, his old form has proved elusive, but he said on Thursday that his effort will help him for the rest of the season.

"There were definitely elements of my Giro ride today, elements of going into 100km time trial mode, and trying to ride a speed I could sustain for 100km," Froome said. "It was a tough day, over 2,000m for a lot of the stage today, and I could really feel the altitude taking its toll. 

"But that's what I'm here for, and I'm really happy to do that. I'm here to get the hard miles in and set myself up for races to come."

Callum Ormiston, riding for the South Africa team, won Thursday's stage five, while William Lecerf (Soudal Quick-Step Development) took the race lead. There are three more stages.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.