Chris Froome: Team Ineos rider returns in first stage of Route d’Occitanie

Chris Froome
Froome won the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017

Britain’s Chris Froome was credited with the same time as winner Bryan Coquard after being held up by a crash on stage one of the Route d’Occitanie.

The four-time Tour de France winner who suffered a serious crash last summer, is bidding to return to form in time for the start of the Tour on 29 August.

Froome is trying to become the fifth rider to win a record five Tours.

He faces competition for selection for Team Ineos from team-mate Egan Bernal, who won last year’s three-week race.

This year’s Tour has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic and the four-day Route d’Occitanie, held in southern France, is a warm-up race for the riders.

Coquard beat Elia Viviani and Sonny Colbrelli in the sprint for the line after a technical run-in to Cazouls-les-Beziers which saw several of the general classification favourites, including Froome and Thibaut Pinot delayed by the crash.

Froome finished 56 seconds behind Coquard but because the crash happened inside the final 3km of a designated sprint stage, all the riders affected were awarded the same time as the winner.

Bernal, the 23-year-old Colombian who won his maiden Grand Tour last year, avoided the crash and finished sixth on the stage.

Both he and Froome are 10 seconds behind Coquard in the overall standings because of time bonuses awarded to the winner.

The second stage begins in Carcassonne on Sunday.

Froome, 35, is set to leave Team Ineos at the end of the season after they decided not to renew his contract.

Meanwhile, his Ineos team-mate Ivan Sosa won stage five of the Vuelta a Burgos as Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel took the overall victory.

The Vuelta a Burgos was the first major stage race to take place since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The one-day Strade Bianche race in Tuscany, Italy also took place on Saturday, with Belgian Wout van Aert winning the men’s race and Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten taking the women’s title.

Britain’s Lizzie Deignan finished 12 minutes behind in 37th.

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