By Samuel Petrequin
AP Sports Writer
SAINT-GERVAIS-LES-BAINS, France — Rain and crashes played havoc at the Tour de France on Friday as Chris Froome hit the ground and Romain Bardet posted the first French victory at this year’s race.
Froome quickly borrowed a teammate’s bike and kept the now torn yellow jersey after crossing the finish line 36 seconds behind Bardet, who climbed to second place overall.
Froome holds a lead of 4 minutes, 11 seconds over Bardet, with two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana of Colombia moving up to third, 4:27 back.
Bardet attacked on a descent moments before Froome slipped on road paint and hit the ground. The two-time champion was able to continue racing after Geraint Thomas gave him his bike.
Froome was descending at a relatively cautious speed of almost 45 kph (28 mph) when he fell, but the crash left him wounded. With his yellow jersey torn, cuts and bruises on his back and blood on his right elbow, Froome looked uncomfortable on Thomas’ bike.
Despite the circumstances, Froome caught up with the group of favorites in the brutal final climb to Le Bettex with the help of teammate Wouter Poels.
Froome crossed the line grimacing in pain, then put his arm around Poels to thank him for the support.
The 146-kilometer (91-mile) ride featured four ascents in the Alps and was marred by several crashes on roads made slippery by rain. Second-place Bauke Mollema also crashed at a roundabout and got dropped, as his hopes of finishing on the podium in Paris disappeared.
“Right now I’m on a cloud,” Bardet said after posting his second Tour stage win. “I rode with my instinct. I’m second overall, I won the stage, it’s is beautiful.”
Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez finished the stage in second place, in the same time as Alejandro Valverde, 23 seconds back.
In the overall, Adam Yates dropped from third to fourth, nine seconds behind Quintana, and Mollema fell all the way to 10th.