Tour de France: Cavendish wins as Froome's lead shrinks

Tour de France • Contador gaining on overall leader.
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Saint-Amand-Montrond, France • On a contrasting day for British riders at the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish moved up the list of sprint greats while Chris Froome lost a large chunk of his overall lead to his main rival.

Cavendish sealed his 25th stage win to move into a tie for third place on the Tour's all-time list, during an eventful day in which Froome gave up more than one minute to two-time former champion Alberto Contador.

To make things more worrisome for Froome, he once again had to fend for himself at the end because none of his withering Sky teammates could keep the pace. This is the second stage so far that they have been unable to support him, and with a tough mountain trek looming on Sunday rivals may try to take advantage.

Dutchman Bauke Mollema is 2 minutes, 28 seconds behind Froome, and Contador is 2:45 back — having both gained 1:09 on the leader.

"I'm just happy I've got an advantage of more than two minutes," Froome said.

Sky is down to seven riders — Edvald Boasson Hagen fractured his shoulder on Thursday and Vasili Kiryienka was disqualified earlier in the race for missing a time cut. Also, Brit Geraint Thomas is riding with a fractured pelvis.

"[Edvald's] a huge part of the team and we could really have done with him today and the same with Vasili," Froome said. "They're both really strong engines and the team is definitely weakened without those guys."

Contador, the Tour champion in 2007 and '09 who was stripped of his title the following year for doping, is now looking like a serious contender again after struggling in the Pyrenees. Froome knows that Sunday's massive climb up to Mont Ventoux could have a major bearing on the race.

"I think there will be more time won and lost on a stage like Ventoux than the last 20 [kilometers] on this stage," he said.

Contador's late attack Friday was timed to perfection and caught Froome cold.

"Near the end we saw that many riders were at their limit," Contador said. "There were a lot of people barely hanging on, and we couldn't have asked for a better result." —


1. C. Froome —

2. B. Mollema -2:28.

3. A. Contador -2:45.

4. R. Kreuziger -2:48.

5. L. ten Dam -3:01. —

Tour de France

P Saturday, 6 a.m.