Rigoberto Uran won a chaotic, crash-strewn stage nine of the Tour de France which saw Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte abandon the race while Chris Froome came home third to retain the yellow jersey.
Cannondale-Drapac’s Uran took victory in a photo finish ahead of Warren Barguil of Team Sunweb – one final twist of drama on a day that will live long in Tour history.
Team Sky’s Thomas suffered a suspected broken collarbone in a crash on the damp descent of the Col de la Biche, while BMC’s Porte went down in a frightening incident on the descent of the Mont du Chat – the last of seven categorised climbs on a brutal stage.
It all came down to a rare sprint finish between general classification contenders, with AG2R La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet fourth and Fabio Aru of Astana fifth.
With four bonus seconds on the line for third place, Froome extended his lead over Aru to 18 seconds. However, he has lost his rear-gunner as Thomas started the day second overall.
Bardet is up to third overall, 51 seconds down, four seconds ahead of former Team-Sky man Uran who catapulted up the standings with the win.
Irishman Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) was caught in the crash that ended Porte’s race and then came down again later in the descent, losing fourth place as he slipped to sixth, one minute and 44 seconds down, 18 seconds ahead of seventh-place Simon Yates of Orica-Scott.
The crashes were not the only cause of drama.
Froome suffered a mechanical problem on the Mont du Chat, the last of three hors categorie climbs on the day, and as the three-time Tour winner was calling for the team car Aru attacked in a clear breach of cycling’s protocol.
The other general classification contenders followed the Italian, but seemingly in order to remonstrate with him and tell him to wait.
Froome soon caught back up after a bike change but made his feelings known to Aru as he gave the Astana man a nudge after a corner.