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Froome retains Tour de France lead despite Ventoux chaos

Mollema and Froome also tumbled and the Briton’s bike was broken in the incident.

(From L) Australias Richie Porte, Netherlands Bauke Mollema and Britain's Christopher Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, fall on the ground during the 178 km twelvelth stage of the 103rd edition of the Tour de France cycling race on 14 July 2016 between Montpellier and Chalet-Reynard. Picture: AFP

FRANCE - Defending champion Chris Froome retained the overall leader's yellow jersey on the Tour de France after an incident involving a motorbike left him without a bike in a chaotic finale of the 12th stage on Thursday.

The Briton's bike was broken in a pile-up close to the finish and the Team Sky rider began running up the slopes of the Mont Ventoux before grabbing a service bike which did not work.

Froome was then given a spare Team Sky bike on which he completed the 178-km stage, losing over a minute to his main rivals, only for the race jury to rule that he would be credited with the same time as the two riders he was with when the incident occurred.

BMC rider Richie Porte, who was leading Froome and Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Trek Segafredo), crashed into a TV motorbike that was held up by the crowd on the road.

Mollema and Froome also tumbled and the Briton's bike was broken in the incident.

The overall lead was first handed to Briton Adam Yates (Orica-Bike Exchange) before the standings were updated and Froome was handed the yellow jersey on the podium.

"I'm very happy with the commissaires' decision, I think it was the right thing to do, thanks to the jury and thanks to the organisers," Froome told reporters.

Yates added: "I'm happy with the decision, I would not want to take the jersey like that. I wanted to take it with my legs."

Yates now trails Froome by 47 seconds in second place.

"It's a fair decision," said Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford.

Mollema is third, 56 seconds off the pace as Froome's main rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) of Colombia is fourth 1:01 behind.

Froome had been the strongest of the top favourites in a stage shortened because of violent winds at top of the Ventoux, dropping main rival Quintana with about 3km left as only Porte and Mollema could follow his pace.

"The motorbike could not progress and there was a pile-up in which Chris's bike was broken," said Team Sky sports director Nicolas Portal.

"It was a nightmare."

Portal added he was also held up behind the race stewards and could not drive up to his rider so that his mechanic could hand him a spare bike.

"It's an incident created by the event. There are more and more people lining up the road. It's got nothing to do with sport," the Frenchman said.

"It was crazy. On a 200-metre portion there were hundreds of spectators blocking the road."

Froome will have the opportunity to extend his lead in Friday's 13th stage, a 37.5-km individual time trial from Bourg Saint Andeol and La Caverne du Pont d'Arc.

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