Romain Bardet (L) of France and Chris Froome of Great Britain shake hands on the presentation podium after the Tour de France in Paris on July 24, 2016. File photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo
Defending champion Chris Froome escaped an action-packed ninth stage of the Tour de France as two of his main rivals crashed out of the race on Sunday.
Fellow Brit Geraint Thomas abandoned the event after sustaining a suspected broken collarbone following a crash in a high-speed descent, organizers said after the race. Thomas went down on the slippery descent from France's Jura mountains, where speeds can exceed 45 mph.
Thomas, who had already crashed three times during this Tour, was second overall at the start of the stage, 12 seconds behind Team Sky teammate Froome.
"I'm just thinking of the devastation of leaving the Tour and another Grand Tour," Thomas told the team's website.
In addition, Australian Richie Porte's Tour came to an end after he suffered a heavy crash on a descent. The BMC Racing rider went off the road and hit a wall of rocks. Medics carried him into an ambulance on a stretcher in a neck brace fitted as a precaution.
Porte was regarded as Froome's main challenger ahead of the three-week event.
Froome, a three-time champion, suffered a mechanical failure on the last climb and ended up third at the finish in Chambery, in the Alps, in the stage won by Colombian Rigoberto Uran ahead of France's Warren Barguil.
"I had a mechanical problem with my gears, I had to change bike," Froome said. "I want to thank the other riders, who did not attack.
"Richie (Porte) was quite instrumental in slowing that group down, saying this is not the time to attack the leader of the race, so thanks to Richie and I hope he makes a speedy recovery."
Overall, Froome leads Fabio Aru of Italy by 18 seconds and Romain Bardet of France by 51 seconds.
Monday is a rest day for the riders.