Beat-up Froome expected to continue despite crash in Catalunya

Briton will act as support rider for Sky teammate Egan Bernal

Chris Froome's return to WorldTour racing at the Volta a Catalunya this week suffered a significant setback when the Team Sky racer crashed hard in the finale of stage 2.

Froome went down when the peloton was near the finish town of Sant Feliu de Guixols, close to the start of a final 36 kilometre lap and when the bunch was passing at speed through an area of deep shade into one of much brighter light, and several riders were reported to be half-blinded by the sudden glare.

Team Sky sources said one rider swerved into Froome, although they were at pains to say that nobody could be to blame for such a move given the circumstances, causing the Briton and several other riders to crash.

But despite having a badly scraped right hip, shoulder, arm and leg, Froome is expected to continue.

"It was kind of dark and on a fast descent, and then suddenly the race entered into much brighter light and in an area with a bit of roadworks as well," sports director Nico Portal told a small group of reporters. "Somebody skidded over, and collided with him, we don't know who, but it wasn't their fault anyway, and Chris went down."

"He's got road rash in the right shoulder, arm and down over his hip to the leg, but he should be OK to continue. However, you have to let at least one night go past to be 100 per cent sure of how he is feeling and how he's been affected."

With his bike broken and needing replacement and the race at full speed as it roared through the town, Froome quickly lost time. He crossed the final line more than 14 minutes down, in 161st place, just as race leader Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) was stepping onto the winner's podium to take his latest jersey.

Froome barely stopped as he rode past a Sky soigneur, who briefly called out instructions on how to reach the team bus, some 800 metres further on.

Team directors said that it had not been worth sending back other riders to support Froome given teammate Egan Bernal is the top contender for Sky in Catalunya.

"If somebody had waited for him, we'd have lost two guys for the finish, not one and we're clearly concentrated on Egan," Portal said afterwards. "Chris was really here to help. It's always bad for the morale to have a crash like this, but he should be there for the start [of stage 3]."

"He didn't ask for any support," sports director Xavi Zandio added. "He's all right, nothing broken as far as we can, but he came down hard. It was a difficult day, the roads were slippy, that was bad luck."

"It's a pity he's lost time, but his objectives here were mainly to get the miles in. The big objectives are yet to come."

"On paper, we were both possible leaders," Bernal, currently seventh overall said afterwards, "but now it will be a great honour for me to have Chris supporting me."

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