tour de france

Chris Froome: Pre-Tour de France crash like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ scene

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Chris Froome said the aftermath of his high-speed crash into a wall before the Tour de France was “like a scene from ‘Grey’s Anatomy,'” when first responders tended to him. His plan is to return to the Tour de France next year at his usual fitness, perhaps better.

Froome hit the wall of a house at 34 miles per hour after losing control on a training ride for the Criterium du Dauphine on June 12, three weeks before the Tour de France. He broke his right femur, elbow and several ribs, was in intensive care and underwent surgery for several hours.

“I’ve got no recollection at all,” of the crash, Froome said in a video published Saturday. “I can only really go off what people who saw the crash happen, I can go off what they said. Basically, what I understand is it was a perfectly straight piece of road, slightly downhill, so I was going at quite [a bit] of speed. I went to go and clear my nostrils, and I was also going past some buildings at the same time. The wind funneled through between buildings and taken my front wheel and basically tried to hold it up and ended up veering off the road into a wall at quite high speed.”

Froome, a four-time Tour de France champion, said the first responders were a coach, mechanic and a Team Ineos director who were in a car behind him while he was preparing for a time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine.

“One of my first questions was, ‘Am I going to be all right for the Tour de France in a few weeks’ time?’” Froome remembered. “And they very quickly put that out of my mind. They couldn’t obviously give a prognosis, but they said it looks like your leg’s broken and your arm doesn’t look good, either. So, no, you’re not going to be on your bike. I think those first moments were the moments that really sort of hit home, and I took it on board that I’m not going be racing the Tour de France this summer. It almost felt like a scene from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or something. It just hit home that, I, actually there’s more going on.”

Froome was airlifted to Saint-Etienne hospital in central France. He remembered barely being able to breathe after surgery, coughing up blood as his lungs were damaged by the broken ribs and a broken sternum.

“It was scary when I did come around the morning after the operation and just felt how hopeless I was lying in that bed,” he said.

A surgeon told him that he could make a 100 percent recovery. Froome said he’s ahead of “all the predictions that were made” for how long it would take to get to this point — starting weight-bearing while doing three to four hours of physical therapy every morning and two hours of exercises in the afternoon.

“The only goal I’ve set myself, personally, is to get to the Tour de France next year,” he said. “That’s what’s driving me. Week by week, I can set myself little goals in terms of allowing myself a little bit more movements or small goals. But, for me, the underlying goal is to get to the start of that Tour de France next year, in 2020, and to be at a similar or better position than I was this year.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Egan Bernal wins Tour de France, first Colombian, youngest since WWII

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PARIS — The skies over Paris were yellow, ignited by a glorious golden sunset.

The partying fans’ shirts were yellow, Colombians making themselves at home on the Champs-Elysees.

But the yellow that counted most was the iconic jersey that fit so snugly on the slim shoulders of Egan Bernal.

His crowning Sunday as the Tour de France’s youngest post-World War II champion, and its first from South America, heralded the birth of a new supernova in the cycling universe.

Winning a Tour for the ages at the unusually young age of 22 immediately prompted the question: How many more might he win?

Get this: He’s younger than the Tour’s greatest champions — five-time winners Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain — all were when they were first crowned. Pity those in the peloton who also hope to win future editions of cycling’s greatest race: They could be in for quite a wait.

“I am the most happy guy in the world. I just won the Tour de France, and, yeah, I can’t believe it,” Bernal said, looking bemused on the podium in the race winner’s jersey and silhouetted by the splendid sunset.

The slightly built Colombian with a killer instinct on the road proved to be the strongest of the 176 strong men who roared off from the start in Brussels, Belgium, on July 6 on their 3,366-kilometer (2,092-mile) odyssey that delivered the most absorbing, drama-packed Tour in decades and confirmation that the prodigy Bernal is the real deal.

Riding a yellow bike, and cheered by Colombian fans who were partying even before he rattled up the cobblestones of the Champs-Elysees, Bernal crossed the line with his teammate Geraint Thomas, the 2018 champion who this year finished second. Steven Kruijswijk completed what Tour organizers said was the tightest podium in the 116-year history of the race, with just 1 minute, 31 seconds separating first and third places after three weeks of racing.

The 21st and final stage was won in a sprint finish on the famous avenue by Australian Caleb Ewan, the dominant sprinter of his first Tour with three stage wins. Keeping with race tradition on its final day, the 155 riders who survived the Tour rode at a pedestrian pace and in a joyful atmosphere before hitting the Champs-Elysees. Bernal chatted with French rival Julian Alaphilippe and raised a glass of champagne as he rode.

At the finish, Bernal fell into the arms of his family.

“I cannot believe it. It’s just incredible. I am sorry. I have no words,” he said through a translator. “I still can’t understand what is happening to me.”

TOUR DE FRANCE: Full Standings

Tearful Colombians celebrated their new hero.

“When I saw that he won, I said, ‘I need to go with my music to support him,’” said clarinet-playing Colombian fan Sebastian Cortes, who traveled from Strasbourg in eastern France for the celebration.

But millions of French fans who had lined the roads through east, central and southern France, and up into the thinning air of the Pyrenees and Alps, were ruing a bitter-sweet Tour.

First, their hearts soared with fabulous racing from French riders Alaphilippe, who held the iconic yellow jersey for 14 days, and Thibaut Pinot, who won on the first of seven 2,000-meter-plus (6,500-feet) peaks scaled by the highest Tour in history.

But joy turned to sorrow when Alaphilippe and Pinot’s prospects of becoming France’s first winner since Hinault in 1985 were cruelly dashed just two days before the grand finale in Paris, on an epic Stage 19 where Mother Nature became a party-pooping guest. An almighty dump of torrential rain and hail severed the Tour route just as Bernal was succeeding in ripping the race lead off Alaphilippe, who’d clung to it like a kid with a favorite toy.

“Julian Alaphilippe made us dream,” said Celestin Simon, a Parisian who cheered his hero on the Champs-Elysees in a pointy hat of French red, white and blue. “Unfortunately, there’s no victory at the end.”

Alaphilippe, more than anyone, first ignited and then stoked what will long be remembered as a Tour of fireworks. With his goatee beard and can’t-catch-me attacks that rivals couldn’t match, Alaphilippe embodied “panache,” the old-school class so cherished by Tour fans.

Alaphilippe’s enterprise first put him in yellow in Champagne country on Stage 3 and then, after he lost the lead on Stage 6, got him the jersey back on Stage 8, which he held through the Pyrenees and into the Alps.

And it was there that Bernal, raised at altitude in Colombia and at home in thinner air, struck.

Bernal flew up the Tour’s highest climb, the dizzying Iseran pass at 2,770 meters (9,088-feet) above sea level, demolishing what remained of Alaphilippe’s lead on Stage 19 and building a sizeable one of his own =.

The watch was then stopped, with Bernal way ahead, when the hailstorm suddenly coated the route with ice, amid fears that riders on tires barely wider than their thumbs could skid off into the rock- and ravine-scarred Alpine décor.

Compounding the misery for France, Pinot abandoned the race in tears, hobbled by a left-thigh muscle tear.

And that was that. The Tour that had been careening to a rock ‘n’ roll finish instead had the plug pulled on it. Landslides also truncated the last Alpine Stage 20, which still proved too long for the by-now exhausted Alaphilippe, who slipped off the podium entirely, despite getting words of encouragement in a call the previous night from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Thomas used the last Alpine climb to secure the runner-up spot in Paris, giving the Ineos team a podium 1-2 with Bernal. Third-placed Kruijswijk, a Dutch Mr. Steady, pulled off the feat of being wholly unremarkable during the three weeks, while Alaphilippe, Pinot and Bernal and others rocked.

Quite remarkably, none of the top four riders won a stage. Alaphilippe, in fifth, won two.

“Honestly, I prefer having won two stages and 14 days in yellow than doing nothing and finishing third,” Alaphilippe said Sunday.

So instead of a red-white-and-blue celebration, Paris instead got painted in Colombian red, blue and yellow.

Lots and lots of yellow.

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2019 Tour de France results

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2019 Tour de France final results for the yellow jersey, green jersey, white jersey and polka-dot jersey …

Overall (Yellow Jersey)
1. Egan Bernal (COL) — 82:57:00

2. Geraint Thomas (GBR) — +1:11
3. Steven Kruijsiwjk (NED) — +1:31
4. Emanuel Buchmann (GER) — +1:56
5. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) — +4:05
6. Mikel Landa (ESP) — +4:23
7. Rigoberto Uran (COL) — +5:15
8. Nairo Quintana (COL) — +5:30
9. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) — +6:12
10. Warren Barguil (FRA) — +7:32
11. Richie Porte (AUS) — +12:42
15. Romain Bardet (FRA) — +30:23
39. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) — +1:37:02
DNF. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN)
DNF. Tejay van Garderen (USA)

Sprinters (Green Jersey)
1. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 316 points
2. Caleb Ewan (AUS) — 248
3. Elia Viviani (ITA) — 224
4. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) — 209
5. Michael Matthews (AUS) — 201

Climbers (Polka-Dot Jersey)
1. Romain Bardet — 86 points
2. Egan Bernal (COL) — 78
3. Tim Wellens (BEL) — 75
4. Damiano Caruso (ITA) — 67
5. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) — 59

Young Rider (White Jersey)
1. Egan Bernal (COL) — 82:57:00
2. David Gaudu (FRA) — +23:58
3. Enric Mas (ESP) — +58:20
4. Laurens De Plus (BEL) — +1:02:44
5. Gregor Muhlberger (AUT) — +01:04:40

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