Chris Froome (Team Sky) revealed that he crashed during the final part of the sixth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné after hitting a pothole in the road. Despite suffering cuts and road rash on his left side, he insisted he will be okay to continue in the race and publicly thanked the other riders for easing up and allowing him to quickly return to the peloton.
Froome finished the stage in the main peloton, 3:55 behind stage winner Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). He still leads Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) by 12 seconds as the race heads into the decisive Alpine stages.
Froome pulled on the yellow jersey during the podium despite his injuries, leaving blood on the sleeve of the new leader's jersey. The yellow jersey he wore during the race was shredded along his left side and shoulder during his crash.
"It's quite painful but I was okay to finish the stage. It looks okay, I'm just a bit grazed for tomorrow," Froome said on French television.
The Kenyan-born Briton crashed in the last 10 kilometres of the stage, with Alessandro Vanotti (Astana) also going down. Froome explained that he crashed due to the poor road surface on the narrow country roads.
"I'm not actually too sure what happened on the descent. I think there was a bit of a hole in the road and I lost my front wheel," he said, talking about is injuries.
It's more my hip, elbow and my shoulder. Most of all I want to thank the other riders for neutralising the race. That's big sportsmanship from them."
Decisive mountain finishes
Saturday's seventh stage ends with a steep climb to the summit finish at Finhaut-Emosson. Froome admitted he does not know he climb but expects to come under attack.
"I'll see how I'm feeling in the morning, but obviously I'll do everything I can to try to sustain the yellow jersey. I imagine anyone with the legs in the final tomorrow will try to attack - that is where the race is going to be won or lost, I think," he told the Team Sky website.
“It is not a climb that I know, but it is definitely going to be tough from what I can see. I expect, with a 12-second advantage, I am going to have to really fight to hold on to the yellow jersey, but it’s not up to me to attack now, it’s up to my rivals."
“I will see how I am feeling tomorrow after the crash today and see what I can do in the final. It never feels good after crashing. You always feel swollen and bruised, but it comes with the territory of being a cyclist."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.