Froome, Con­ta­dor on the front foot in Tour de France

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

In fe­ro­cious winds and thun­der­ous rain, Chris Froome and Al­berto Con­ta­dor man­aged to use the con­di­tions to their ad­van­tage on the sec­ond stage of the Tour de France.

That gave them the early leg up on main ri­vals Vin­cenzo Nibali and Nairo Quin­tana.

While it's too soon for any­one to gain a decisive ad­van­tage in the race, Bri­tish rider Froome and the Spa­niard Con­ta­dor are cer­tainly on the front foot in what is widely touted as a four­way Tour bat­tle.

They're more than a minute ahead of de­fend­ing cham­pion Nibali and Quin­tana af­ter both ri­vals fell be­hind when the pelo­ton split up in the heavy winds.

“We knew that in stages like to­day there might be even more dif­fer­ences made than in the moun­tains,” said Con­ta­dor, who is bid­ding for a third Tour ti­tle.

“I was speak­ing to Froome and (Te­jay) Van Garderen and I told them that these are the kind of op­por­tu­ni­ties you have to take.” They cer­tainly did. Froome crossed the line in sev­enth place, 1 minute 28 sec­onds ahead of Nibali and Quin­tana, while Con­ta­dor gained 1:24 on those two af­ter plac­ing 13th.

Langley, B.C., na­tive Svein Tuft was five min­utes 47 sec­onds off the pace in 101st place. Vic­to­ria's Ry­der Hes­jedal was 132nd.

The ac­tion-packed trek swept along the spec­tac­u­lar Dutch coast­line, with An­dre Greipel win­ning a sprint to clinch a sev­enth Tour stage vic­tory. The Ger­man rider trumped an all-star cast fea­tur­ing three-time de- fend­ing Tour sprint cham­pion Peter Sa­gan, four-time world time trial Fabian Can­cel­lara, and 25-time Tour stage win­ner Mark Cavendish.

The 34-year-old Can­cel­lara's smile beamed as brightly as the sun­shine that fi­nally pierced through the clouds late in the af­ter­noon as he pulled on the race leader's yel­low jersey - 11 years af­ter wear­ing it for the first time.

But the day also be­longed to Froome, the 2013 Tour win­ner who crashed out early in last year's race, and to Con­ta­dor.

Froome, 10th over­all, is now 1:21 ahead of Nibali and leads Quin­tana by 1:39 in the stand­ings.

With the ex­cep­tion of Van Garderen - the Amer­i­can rider is four sec­onds ahead of Froome in eighth over­all - none of the oth­ers in the top 10 is a threat for the Tour vic­tory.

AP PHOTO

Spain’s Al­berto Con­ta­dor, right, waits for the start of the sec­ond stage of the Tour de France cy­cling race over 166 kilo­me­tres (103 miles) with start in Utrecht and fin­ish in Neeltje Jans, Nether­lands, Sun­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.