Chris Froome crashes in reconnaissance ride of opening Giro d'Italia stage

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Chris Froome after his crash
Chris Froome after his crash

Chris Froome admitted crashing during his recce of the Giro d'Italia's opening stage was not the best start to his attempt to win a third straight grand tour but said it could have been worse.

Team Sky's five-time grand tour winner was one of several riders to fall as they tested Jerusalem's tight corners and rolling hills before the 9.7-kilometre time trial started but Froome got off lightly compared to ex-teammate Kanstantsin Siutsou.

The Belarusian's race was over before it started and he is now heading back to his Bahrain Merida team's Italian base with a broken neck.

Speaking after a stage that saw him cross the line in 21st place, 37 seconds behind defending champion and Friday's winner Tom Dumoulin, Froome said: "I'm alright and just grateful it wasn't more serious - a few guys went down and some were pretty badly injured."

Normally so solid against the clock, Froome rode like a man in pain, particularly in the twisty first half of the course, where he struggled to carry speed through corners.

The crash, which was filmed by a Belgian journalist and posted online, took place on a 90-degree turn about two kilometres into the course. Froome was not going quickly but his front wheel went from under him and he fell hard on his right side.

His team told reporters he was fine, bar a few scrapes, and the 32-year-old looked in reasonable shape as he did his usual high-intensity warm-up. Riding on a stationary bike is easier than riding on one that moves, though.

"Of course, it's always going to hurt, it's not ideal to race just after having crashed but that's bike racing," was all Froome would say afterwards, although he reassured reporters that his wounds were "superficial".

Dumoulin's Team Sunweb were parked next to Team Sky, making it easy to compare the two pre-race favourites' preparations.

While Froome's cuts bled through his bandages and sweat poured off his body, the 27-year-old Dutchman looked cool, calm and confident - and appearances were not deceiving.

In the stage winner's press conference, Dumoulin said he had been nervous beforehand but it was "a good nervous" and he knew the course suited him. He said he had seen Siutsou's crash and had read about Froome's mishap on Twitter but that did not change his approach.

"It's not a risk if you take a fast and good corner - I know I'm handling my time trial bike really well, especially on the technical courses with lots of corners and ups and downs," he said.

"I knew I had to be cautious but if you take good corners, it's OK."

He dismissed suggestions that the course was any more dangerous than any other but said Froome was clearly hampered by his crash.

"If you crash on the recon it doesn't make you very confident for the real race so he definitely lost a bit more time in the corners - it's very unfortunate for him," said Dumoulin.

"I didn't expect to take so much time on him and the other (general classification) guys but the course really suited me and it's a good start for me.

"I know what's coming for me, well, not every detail but I'm aware of the challenges that are coming. And like every GC rider says, you take it day by day, but being the badass I am, I'm going to take it hour by hour," he joked.

In contrast, there was not much to smile about at Team Sky, although Froome did acknowledge the strong ride put in by rising British star Simon Yates, who finished seventh, 19 seconds behind Dumoulin and 18 ahead of Froome.

"Yeah, Yates was pretty impressive, that was a good little ride from him. I don't think Tom was too much of a surprise, he's world champ time trialist, but congrats to him," said Froome.

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