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Cavendish snatches 13th Tour de France stage

Chris Froome loses sizeable chunk of his overall lead of the 100th edition of the Tour de France.

Last Modified: 13 Jul 2013 11:42
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Cavendish celebrates on the podium after winning the 173km 13th stage of the Tour de France [AFP]

Britain's Mark Cavendish has won the 13th stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish.

Chris Froome lost a sizeable chunk of his overall lead on Friday after being caught out by an attack from rival Alberto Contador.

Cavendish moved ahead with about 100 metres to go and rival Peter Sagan, who leads the contest for the best sprinter's green jersey, was unable to stay with him.

It was the British sprinter's second stage win of this year's Tour and 25th overall, moving him level in third place with Frenchman Andre Leducq on the all-time list.

"My team did an incredible job,'' Cavendish said.

Relief

His relief was clear to see as he rushed into the arms of teammate Sylvain Chavanel after the stage. On Thursday his teammates had put him into a great position to attack but he was beaten to the line by Marcel Kittel of Germany.

"Yesterday they gave everything and I let them down,'' Cavendish said.

"The Tour de France is the most incredible race in the world. It means so much to me. When I think about it, it makes me want to cry.''

Flat stages are normally relatively free of incident, but the 173-kilometretres from Tours, which is surrounded by the Loire river, to Saint-Amand-Montrond in central France was exciting and showed that even Froome's formidable Sky team can be vulnerable.

"There's no such thing as a calm stage on the Tour de France,'' Froome said. "Having lost a minute there, that's always a bitter pill to swallow because we've worked really hard already to get the advantage we had.''

With about a third of the stage gone, the main pack was split into three and Alejandro Valverde dropped way out of overall contention after stopping to repair a puncture that cost him a huge amount of time and put him outside the top 10.

Contador big winner

Valverde was second overnight but that spot was overtaken by Dutchman Bauke Mollema, while the two-time former champion Contador improved to third. They both gained 1 minute, 9 seconds on Froome. That means Mollema is 2:28 behind and Contador is 2:45 adrift.

"It doesn't surprise me what happened today. Just a reminder that I need to stay awake at all times in this race,'' Froome said.

"That's what's going to make it an exciting race. We're up for it, we're going to try.''

Contador was also a big winner of the stage after he was battered by Froome in the Pyrenees mountains and then lost more time to him in the time trial. Friday's performance should be a big boost for the Spaniard going into a tough mountain stage on Sunday and then three gruelling Alpine stages to follow after that.

Given that Froome finished alone and without any Sky teammates on a flat stage, it suggests he could be in serious trouble in the mountains if he's isolated by an attack from Contador.

The Sky team is down to seven riders after Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen had to pull out after fracturing his right shoulder in a crash involving about 20 riders near the end of Thursday's stage. Of the remaining seven, Geraint Thomas is riding with a fractured pelvis.

502

Source:
AP
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