Chris Froome and Philippe Gilbert had to rescue a spectator from a ravine after a Tour de France fan crashed on the descent from the Col du Portet after Stage 17.
The Belgian revealed how the pair, along with Chris Juul-Jensen of Team Bike-Exchange, were forced to stop to come to the aid of a cyclo-tourist, who tumbled some twenty metres after missing a corner.
Former world champion Gilbert is no stranger to a crash on a Pyrenean descent - during the 2018 Tour de France, he toppled over a low wall after misjudging a corner while descending from the similarly-named Col de Portet d’Aspet on Stage 16.
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“In the descent, after crossing the finish line, I was following a rider and he missed a turn and was found twenty meters below,” revealed Gilbert to Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
“I stopped to help him with Chris Froome and Christopher Juul-Jensen. I lost almost twenty minutes to help this man!
"We called for help because he was still badly messed up.
There has been no public update on the cyclist’s condition.
Israel Start-Up Nation’s Froome and Lotto-Soudal’s Gilbert were descending having complete a brutal Stage 17 that ended with Tadej Pogacar consolidating his position as the runaway leader of the General Classification with a thrilling win at the top of the Col du Portet.
Froome, Gilbert and Juul-Jensen came over the line in three separate groups, all about half-an-hour behind Pogacar.
Gilbert, now 39, was forced to abandon the 2018 Tour after his crash on the descent, and emphasised that while it was an amateur rider who fell on this occasion, descending at high speeds can be a perilous activity.
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“These are experiences that we also live through,” said Gilbert, a five-time winner of one of cycling’s five Monuments.
Remco Evenepoel missed the rest of the 2020 cycling season and much of the early portion of this year after tumbling over a bridge during last year’s Il Lombardia, his Monument debut.
The prodigiously talented Deceuninck Quick-Step rider suffered a fractured pelvis and an injury to his lung, eventually returning for the start of this year’s Giro d’Italia, which he was also forced to abandon after a crash.
Similarly, Froome is still yet to rediscover his best form after his 2019 crash while preparing for the Criterium du Dauphine.
The four-time winner of the Yellow Jersey at the Tour de France spent time in intensive care in hospital after colliding with a wall, suffering fractures to his ribs, elbow and femur.
Froome has endured a largely anonymous race season at new team Israel Start-Up Nation, with few signs of the rider who dominated major stage races while part of the Team Sky unit that secured victory in the General Classifcation of the Tour de France seven times between 2012 and 2019.
The 36-year-old had hoped to use this year’s Tour to rediscover some form and had been appointed Israel Start-Up Nation’s road captain, supporting team leader Michael Woods, who figured prominently in the battle for the King of the Mountains and the polka-dot jersey,
"In a funny kind of way, I’m heading to the Tour de France with a similar mindset as back in 2008,” explained Froome before the race got underway in Brittany nearly three weeks ago.
“I’m looking to gain something through racing the Tour de France.
Hopefully, it will be a stepping stone for me to get back to my former level of racing.
“I’m really happy to be on the start line this year and to be putting my recovery process behind me."
At the conclusion of Stage 18, Froome was 135th in the General Classification, more than four hours behind Pogacar.
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