Tour de France: Chris Froome extends lead despite crash as Romain Bardet wins stage

Chris Froome on stage 19
Chris Froome said he fell after riding over a white road marking

Britain's Chris Froome extended his lead in the Tour de France despite crashing on stage 19, which was won by Frenchman Romain Bardet.

Froome, 31, crashed descending in wet conditions, but the two-time champion continued racing after borrowing team-mate Geraint Thomas' bike.

Team Sky's Froome now leads by four minutes and 11 seconds from stage winner Bardet, who is up to second.

Colombian Nairo Quintana is third, with Briton Adam Yates slipping to fourth.

With two stages remaining, including the processional finale into Paris on Sunday, Bardet's victory was the first for a French rider in the 2016 Tour.

France's Pierre Rolland slips on the wet tarmac
France's Pierre Rolland was the first rider to fall on a descent made tricky by wet roads

Treacherous stage leads to several casualties

Froome, who increased his lead by 19 seconds, was one of several fallers in a treacherous end to the 146km stage, as the rain made the road increasingly slippery.

The biggest casualty in the general classification was Dutch rider Bauke Mollema, who started the day second overall.

The Trek Segafredo man's fall on one descent meant he finished over four minutes behind AG2R's Bardet and is now 10th overall, seven minutes and 42 seconds behind Froome.

Compatriot Tom Dumoulin, who has won two stages on this year's Tour and is one of the favourites to win the Olympic time trial in Rio next month, had to withdraw because of an earlier crash.

The 25-year-old Giant-Alpecin rider suffered what was described as a "severe wrist trauma" but it has not been confirmed whether it was a sprain or fracture.

Chris Froome thanks team-mate Wout Poels
Chris Froome thanks team-mate Wout Poels, who helped him up the final climb

Froome shows winner's grit once more

Froome's injuries were superficial in comparison, but the rips in his jersey and shorts showed the extent of the slide he took after his front wheel hit a white painted line on the road.

He appeared on the podium to collect a new yellow jersey, as leader of the race, with a bandaged knee.

Astana's Vincenzo Nibali came down right behind the 2013 and 2015 winner, while BMC's Richie Porte was another leading rider to fall.

The fact Froome stayed in touch with his main rivals was down to two factors: the selflessness of his team-mates and his determination to hold on to the jersey.

With the Team Sky car way behind, Thomas gave up his bike so Froome did not lose time waiting for a replacement, before Wout Poels did a sterling job of helping Froome close down the other contenders for the general classification.

Having run towards the finish of Mont Ventoux on stage 12 after crashing into a motorbike, Froome showed similar resolve as he powered up the 10km climb to the finish, despite Thomas' bike having a different gear set-up and saddle height.

His efforts meant he only lost 10 seconds to Movistar's Quintana, while Thomas lost six minutes.

"I was trying to stay safe but I hit one of the white lines and lost my front wheel," Froome said.

"I'm lucky nothing is seriously injured. I lost some skin and banged my knee a little bit but I'm grateful to have that four-minute advantage to fall on.

"It was great to have team-mates around me, Wout Poels in particular. It feels good to be one day closer to the finish. Today showed exactly why I thought the Tour was not over."

On using Thomas' bike, he added: "I knew the car was quite a while back and my bike wasn't rideable, so thanks a lot to Geraint for his bike. It was all right."

Romain Bardet
Romain Bardet earned victory and second place overall after a late attack on stage 19

Yates suffers in race for overall podium

Yates' durability has been one of the stories of this year's Tour, and the Briton had held on to a podium position until this gripping stage.

Dubbed 'the shadow' for his ability to hang on to the yellow jersey group, the 23-year-old from Bury lost a little ground on the final ascent.

The stage started with a 20-man breakaway, which was slowly clawed back, and it was not until the final climb of the day that riders began to make their move.

Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) was the first to make a break, but he was caught and then overtaken by Bardet, who saw his opportunity to attack.

And when Astana riders Joaquim Rodriguez and Fabio Aru, plus Quintana, cranked up the pace, Orica-BikeExchange's Yates could not respond.

He remains in the young riders' white jersey, and is just nine seconds adrift of third-placed Quintana with Saturday's final stage in the Alps to come.

Yates leads South Africa's Louis Meintjes by two minutes and 26 seconds in the race for the white jersey.

Tinkoff's Rafal Majka, meanwhile, took an unassailable lead in the race for the king of the mountains polka dot jersey.

Stage 19 result:

1. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) 4hrs 14mins 09secs

2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa/Katusha) +22secs

3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) Same time

4. Louis Meintjes (SA/Lampre)

5. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +25secs

6. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +27secs

7. Daniel Martin (Ire/Etixx - Quick-Step) Same time

8. Wout Poels (Ned/Team Sky) +35secs

9. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) Same time

10. Richie Porte (Aus/BMC Racing) +52secs

General classification after stage 19:

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 82hrs 10mins 37secs

2. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +4mins 11secs

3. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +4mins 27secs

4. Adam Yates (GB/Orica) +4mins 36secs

5. Richie Porte (Aus/BMC Racing) +5mins 17secs

6. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +6mins 00secs

7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +6mins 20secs

8. Louis Meintjes (SA/Lampre) +7mins 02secs

9. Daniel Martin (Ire/Etixx - Quick-Step) +7mins 10secs

10. Bauke Mollema (Ned/Trek) +7mins 42secs

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