Stage 5 of the Tour du Rwanda threw everything it had at Chris Froome who attacked solo for the best part of half of the stage, suffered two wheel changes, and a crash in the closing kilometers.
Froome’s solo attack earned him a trip to the podium for breakaway of the day, after the four-time Tour de France winner battled the tough terrain and wet conditions at the front of the race.
“That was a rough day. I felt like I wanted to have a crack at it. You could see the whole peloton was just pegged about halfway through so I thought I would go for it and get stuck in and see what I had in the legs. The goal was to get over that last climb on my own and see if I could make it down to the finish. I wasn’t far off. I think I had a 30-40 second lead on the Euskaltel guy behind me and about a minute and a half on the peloton,” explained Froome.
With the reduced peloton closing in, and Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) attacking from the group, Froome suffered an untimely mechanical problem which required two wheel changes, at which point he was caught and passed by the bunch.
“I got a front wheel puncture and I didn’t have a team car behind me as they had already pulled the team car out. I managed to get another wheel from neutral service but it wasn’t really compatible with the bike so I had to stop again and change it with my team car. Then the peloton caught me and surged over the top of the climb and that’s where the lights went out for me.”
Inside the final 20km, Froome crashed into a race vehicle but fortunately, escaped with road rash and was able to get back on the bike and finish 4:07 down on stage winner Ormiston.
“I was chasing with a couple of guys to try and get back on, on the descent, but I came around the corner and the QuickStep car had stopped as one of their riders had crashed. So I came around the corner on the limit and there was the car in the road so I had to abandon and get off into the ditch. So I scratched myself up a bit but thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be any damage.”
Stage 5 featured six categorized climbs and almost 4500 meters of climbing and, combined with the altitude, made for an epic day of racing. But, that’s exactly what Froome is here for.
“We were over 2000m for most of the day and you could really feel the altitude taking its toll. But that’s what I am here for. I’m really happy to be here and get the hard miles in and set myself up for races to come in Europe.”
Unfortunately, IPT lost Cole Kessler to a crash and Nadav Raisberg to illness leaving Froome alongside Roi Weinberg for the remaining three stages.