What a way to hit the Tour de France cobbles, knowing leader Chris Froome has fallen

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Stage 4: Le Touquet-Paris Plage to Lille, 163.5km

Lille: Learning Chris Froome had crashed in the Tour de France on the eve of Wednesday’s cobblestone stage was the worst possible scenario for us all on the Sky team before such a big day in the saddle.

Whatever the outcome in the 155.5km fifth stage from Ypres in Belgium to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut back in France, I can’t say how much our hearts were in our throats with the news he had fallen early in Tuesday’s fourth stage.

Similarly, I could not hide my relief after the stage from Le Touquet Paris-Plage to Lille when Froome walked through the door to the hotel room that we share several hours later that night, smiling.

Seeing him with a grin after a day that could so easily have ended his Tour there and then thanks to his crash that left him with severe abrasions and an injured wrist only affirmed my belief Froome was ready to rip in this Tour.

By the time you read these words you might have already learned of his fate in the aftermath of Tuesday’s crash, or you might not have.

Either way, the short-term impact of what happened to Froome on Tuesday and how it impacted the team remains the same.

Making the stress of Wednesday’s stage even harder for the peloton to handle was that the cobblestones came after some already tense days of racing – three in England, then in Tuesday’s stage to Lille.

The run in to Lille was particularly hard with a little bit of wind and everyone and their teams wanting to be at the front.

It obviously wasn’t ideal with Chris crashing – a moment I didn’t see, but chatted about with him soon after.

Froome said before heading off to have X-rays his legs were fine. His wrist was the problem.

And, dare I say, the situation was hardly ideal when he was in such pain.

But then, we all have to play with the cards we are dealt with and respond as best as possible.

And come night time on Wednesday, such a philosophy was uppermost in all our minds.

Most of us on the Sky team were to go into the stage a little inexperienced on the cobbles.

The general concensus was that there will be a fight for position in each of the nine sectors.

And it is true – as in any sport – that tackling such a challenge with anything less than 100 per cent commitment can lead to disaster.

Being a pro bike rider is about throwing caution to the wind. The more you think about it, the worse it can be.

All you can do is get on with it. If you have a crash, you hope you fall on the others guys and are not the first to do so.

Saying that, considering the potential for Wednesday’s stage to turn the Tour on its end, it was hard to think beyond the stage and to what awaits us all on the Tour route.

What I do I hope when the Tour reaches Paris on Sunday, July 27, is that every rider will have had the chance to fairly capitalise on the fallout from the cobbles with performance on their bike.

Of course, if anyone is to best capitalise on those chances, then I hope it is Froome or any of us the Sky team.

Richie Porte is a rider with Team Sky

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