Kit­tel wins crash-marred stage 11

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY SA­MUEL PETREQUIN AND JOHN LE­ICES­TER

Ahead of two gru­elling days filled with some truly pun­ish­ing as­cents, the main con­tenders on the Tour de France were all hop­ing Wed­nes­day would be a nice, re­laxed day on the bike. It didn’t hap­pen. In­stead of what rid­ers call a “tran­si­tion” day, with a com­fort­able run to the gate­way to the Pyre­nees moun­tains, Stage 11 proved to be a bru­tal ex­pe­ri­ence for some of the top rid­ers af­ter a se­ries of crashes left them nurs­ing cuts and bruises.

When cross­winds started mak­ing the bunch ner­vous to­ward the end of the 203.5-kilo­me­tre stage from Eymet to Pau, the stress be­came pal­pa­ble and led to sev­eral crashes back of the pelo­ton.

Ger­man sprinter Mar­cel Kit­tel steered clear of trou­ble and claimed the stage in a sprint fin­ish, tak­ing his tally to five stage wins since the race started.

But French­man Ro­main Bardet, who is third over­all be­hind race leader Chris Froome, was not so for­tu­nate.

He hit the deck and slightly at the hurt his knee, but the AG2R La Mon­di­ale rider was able to con­tinue af­ter chang­ing bikes and did not lose any time.

“It was a ner­vous day and I was caught in a crash,” said Bardet, who is try­ing to be­come the first French­man to win the Tour since Bernard Hin­ault last man­aged the feat in 1985.

“It’s never en­joy­able to fall. I just have to soak it up and to wait for bet­ter days.”

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