Kittel wins; Froome falls
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.