Kittel wins; Froome falls

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE -

Ger­many’s Mar­cel Kittel won the sec­ond stage of the Tour de France with a com­mand­ing sprint fin­ish Sun­day while three-time cham­pion Chris Froome didn’t lose any time de­spite fall­ing to the pave­ment amid a mass crash on a wet cor­ner. Froome’s Sky team­mate Geraint Thomas held on to the leader’s yel­low jer­sey. Froome was near the front of the pelo­ton when a rider ahead of him lost con­trol com­ing around a sharp turn with about 20 miles to go. The domino re­ac­tion also took down last year’s run­ner-up, Ro­main Bardet. Froome’s shorts and sev­eral lay­ers of skin were torn and he had to change bikes as three team­mates paced him back to the pelo­ton. Hav­ing won the open­ing time trial Satur­day, Thomas re­mained five sec­onds ahead of Swiss rider Ste­fan Kueng in the over­all standings. With a 10-sec­ond bonus, Kittel moved up to third over­all, six sec­onds be­hind Thomas. Froome is sixth, 12 sec­onds be­hind. “The weather didn’t help things at all,” Thomas said. It took Kittel slightly more than 4½ hours to cover the mostly flat 126-mile leg from Duesseldorf, Ger­many, to Liege, Bel­gium. It was Kittel’s 10th ca­reer Tour stage vic­tory. Kittel dropped to the ground and started cry­ing af­ter he crossed the line. Ar­naud De­mare of France fin­ished sec­ond, An­dre Greipel of Ger­many crossed third and Mark Cavendish of Brit- ain was fourth. An early four-man break­away con­sist­ing of Thomas Bou­dat, Tay­lor Phin­ney, Yoann Of­fredo and Lau­rent Pi­chon — all Tour rookies — quickly gained more than a three-minute lead. Phin­ney, an Amer­i­can with Can­non­dale, and Of­fredo, a French­man with Wanty, were caught by the main pack with ex­actly one kilo­me­ter to go. The race lost Ale­jan­dro Valverde, who fin­ished third in 2015, to a crash on a rain-slick­ened bend Satur­day. Also aban­don­ing was Australian rider Luke Dur­bridge, who in­jured his an­kle in the open­ing-day time trial. The Tour re­mains in Bel­gium for the start of Stage 3 to­day, a (132-mile) leg from Verviers to Longwy, France, that passes through Lux­em­bourg.

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