Vuelta a Espana: Chris Froome’s bad luck strikes again with sixth crash of year

 

Spain

After crashing three times in the Tour de France and being forced to abandon as a result of his injuries, Britain’s Chris Froome might have had reason to hope that his run of accidents had finally ended. But on Friday as Froome fell heavily at the Vuelta a Espana, he was proved wrong.

Froome’s injuries were apparently minor, cuts and bruises on his right side that did not stop the Kenyan-born Briton from continuing in the race – and even staging a small attack near the finish in Alcaudete to claim seventh behind stage winner, Alessandro De Marchi. “I’m OK,” Froome said at the finish before heading off for the Team Sky bus.

Currently fourth overall, in the early part of the Vuelta, Froome had shown he had recovered well from his Tour de France injuries – a fractured wrist – with a strong ride on Thursday’s summit finish in La Zubia, taking second.

However, this is the sixth time that Froome has crashed this year, the accidents blighting three races he targeted: once in the Critérium du Dauphiné, the crucial warm-up event for the Tour when he hurt his hip, three times in the Tour  itself and once in a training accident two days before the Vuelta when he skidded  – fortunately when riding at a very slow pace – on a patch of oil.

Friday’s crash, in contrast, was at high speed in a moment of maximum tension in the race. “He’s fine, he went down just after [rival Nairo] Quintana was trying to get in a break, [another rival] Alberto Contador was chasing after him and the race was splitting apart,” Sky team-mate Mikel Nieve told reporters. “A rider went down ahead of him and he had nowhere to go.”

A long line of Sky riders then guided Froome back to the peloton, before he saw the race doctor.

Second in the Vuelta in 2012, Froome’s next big challenge will be Sunday in the mountain top finish of Valdelinares – the second of eight summit finishes. Even more crucial, though, will be Tuesday’s 35-kilometres individual time-trial near Zaragoza.

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