Wheel prob­lems costly to con­tenders

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Sports -

MUR DE BRE­TAGNE, France — Some­times in cy­cling the bike can be the rider’s big­gest en­emy.

Tour de France con­tenders Tom Du­moulin and Ro­main Bardet both lost sig­nif­i­cant time in the over­all stand­ings af­ter spokes on their wheels snapped near the up­hill end of Stage 6 on Thurs­day.

Both ti­tle hope­fuls were left be­hind by the rest of the top rid­ers as they in­creased the pace hunt­ing for the win that fi­nally went to Daniel Martin of Ire­land.

Du­moulin said his bike broke when he knocked into Bardet near the foot of the sec­ond of two two-kilo­me­ter as­cents up the Mur de Bre­tagne to the fin­ish line.

“I hit the back wheel of Bardet when there was the move­ment in the pelo­ton and I couldn’t avoid it,” the Dutch rider said. “I needed to change wheel and chase to the fin­ish as hard as pos­si­ble but it was very dif­fi­cult.”

Du­moulin and his Sun-web team com­pounded the me­chan­i­cal mishap by get­ting a 20-sec­ond penalty when Du­moulin stayed too close to the team car while try­ing to catch the pack, thereby ben­e­fit­ing from its draft that pulled him along.

“I knew I wouldn’t make it back so it was about lim­it­ing the time loss,” Du­moulin said. “I’m dis­ap­pointed of course, I would have liked to be in a bet­ter po­si­tion on [gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion] but that’s how it is.”

Du­moulin and Bardet en­tered the three-week race among the few rid­ers con­sid­ered strong enough to chal­lenge four-time cham­pion Chris Froome.

Du­moulin, the time trial world cham­pion and 2017 Giro d’Italia win­ner, started the stage 44 se­conds ahead of Froome, but fin­ished just be­hind him. Froome trails race leader Greg Van Aver­maet by 1:02. Du­moulin is one more sec­ond be­hind.

Bardet was al­ready trail­ing Froome, and af­ter los­ing 28 se­conds is now 1:45 off the leader’s pace af­ter he broke his back wheel and had to change bikes with Tony Gal­lopin.

“Then I had to chase and that ef­fort was fa­tal. It’s never good to lose time,” said Bardet, who has fin­ished on the podium in the past two Tours. “There are a lot of twists on the Tour and this time luck was not on our side.”

Fri­day’s flat 143-mile leg from Fougeres to Chartes is the long­est stage of this Tour.

Peter Dejong/As­so­ci­ated Press

Ire­land’s Daniel Martin crosses the fin­ish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France Thurs­day.

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