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Geraint Thomas Stays Lucky And Stays Second As Tour Rests Before Alps

Geraint Thomas admitted luck as well as know-how is playing a part as he maintained second place overall in the Tour de France.

The Welsh rider managed to stay out of trouble on Sunday and will enjoy Monday’s first rest day in good spirits as he prepares for the race to enter the Alps.

Richie Porte sat on the pavement grasping his right shoulder and grimacing in pain. A fan helped Chris Froome get going after he tumbled onto grass lining the road. And Romain Bardet recovered from three punctured tires.

And they were only the highest-profile riders to face mishaps in the action-packed cobblestoned Stage 9 on Sunday.

Every cyclist who reached the finish was covered in dust — many with their jerseys torn to shreds from crashes.

Spanish rider Gorka Izaguirre had the unusual experience of his rear wheel buckling to the point that it looked like something out of a scrap heap.

John Degenkolb won a three-man sprint to take victory in a memorable stage, while overall contender Porte crashed out of the race.

Yellow-jersey holder Greg Van Avermaet crossed second and increased his overall lead to 43 seconds ahead of Thomas, a teammate of Froome’s at Sky, but now a rival for the position of team No.1.

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Thomas said:  “It was just hard all day from kilometer zero.

“You’ve got to be in the right position but you also need the luck because it’s easy to puncture or get caught up in something.”

Froome, the four-time champion, crossed in the main pack, 27 seconds behind, overcoming a crash with 28 miles to go that saw him go over the top of teammate Gianni Moscon.

“I’m relieved to get through today and looking forward to getting into the mountains now where the real race for GC (general classification) will start,” Froome said.

Froome moved up to eighth overall, 1:42 behind Van Avermaet, who is not a threat in the mountains.

Porte, the BMC team leader, crashed out of the Tour 10 kilometers into the 97-mile leg — before any of the 15 cobblestone sections. He was later diagnosed with a fractured right clavicle.

Porte also crashed out of last year’s Tour in the ninth stage, on a mountain descent.

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“It won’t be easy for him to get back in his mind,” teammate Van Avermaet said. “The good thing is that his crash is not as bad as last year so he will recover faster.”

Rigoberto Uran, last year’s runner-up, and Mikel Landa, one of three leaders of the Movistar team, also each crashed and lost time.

Bardet, the French hope who finished on the podium the last two years, finished only seven seconds behind the main pack despite having to be paced back to the peloton three times.

Monday is this Tour’s first rest day, with riders back in action on Tuesday in a 158.5km stage from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand, marking the first of three stages in the Alps.

Stage nine result

  1. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo) 3hrs 24mins 26secs
  2. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) same time
  3. Yves Lampaert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors)
  4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +19secs
  5. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
  6. Jasper Stuyven (Bel/Trek-Segafredo)
  7. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors)
  8. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto-Soudal) +27secs
  9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Team Dimension Data) same time
  10. Timothy Dupont (Bel/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)

General classification after stage nine

  1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 36hrs 7mins 17secs
  2. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +43secs
  3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +44secs
  4. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) +50secs
  5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +1min 31secs
  6. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora-Hansgrohe) +1min 32secs
  7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +1min 33secs
  8. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +1min 42secs
  9. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) same time
  10. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar)


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