Froome wins yellow after Cancellara crashes

Cycle//Tour de France

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Chris Froome has taken the yellow jersey after just three stages following a second place finish on the gruelling Mur de Huy in an action packed day.

Team Sky's Froome finished second behind Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez on the short climb that averaged 19%, gaining time on rivals Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana. 

Froome was able to take the yellow jersey after Fabian Cancellara failed to keep pace following a nasty crash. With the race heading to a hugely exciting climax at 60km to go there was a huge crash in the peloton, with another 500m later. Cancellara flipped over his handlebars, but with the race neutralised, he was able to catch up. As the race edged towards the tough climbs in the closing kilometres, the Swiss rider was unable to keep pace and eventually finsihed more than 11 minutes behind Rodriguez. It was later confirmed that Cancellara had in fact fractured two vertabrae and was forced to abandon the rest of the Tour. 

Tim Dumoulin, the white jersey holder, and Simon Gerrans, who was considered as one of the favourites for the stage win, were also caught up in the crash and abandoned the race. 

“I didn’t wake up today thinking I was going to be in yellow,” Froome said.

“That was a real surprise. Today was treacherous; lots of crashes. Not too different from the Fleche Wallone classic this year. I couldn’t be happier to be in yellow. I’m not banking on anything at this point, For sure I’d rather be in the position I’m in now rather than having to make up time.”

Froome's unexpected hold on the yellow jersey and his advantage over his rivals will come as a welcome cushion heading into stage four, which sees the riders tackle the dreaded cobblestones that proved to be the end of Froome's Tour last year.

Classification after Stage 3

1 - Chris Froome (Team Sky) - 7hr 11' 37"
2 - Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +1"
3 - Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) - +13"
4 - Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) - +26"
5 - Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - 28"
6 - Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) - +31"
7 - Rigoberto Uran Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +34"
8 - Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) - +36"
9 - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - +1' 03"
10 - Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +1' 04"

Selected others

13 - Vinenzo Nibali (Astana) - +1' 38"
16 - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - +1' 51"
17 - Nairo Quintana (Movistar) - +1' 56" 
26 - Roman Bardet (AG2R) - +2' 54"
27 - Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) - +2' 58"
46 - Richie Porte (Team Sky) - +5' 48"
 

 

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Paralysed Mountain Bike World Champion Rides Again

Cycle//News

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A few years ago, Martyn Ashton riding a bike would've been no big deal. But now, it produces an incredible, heart-warming story of determination and dedication. 

Two years ago, the British and world mountain bike champion was paralysed from the waist down after an accident during a trials performance at Silverstone. 

The now 40-year old was told he would never walk again, let alone return to the saddle. But the courageous cyclist has exhibited all of the strength and determination associated with elite sport by becoming the first person to ride a two-wheel bike with such injuries. 

Along with fellow mountain bikers Danny MacAskill, Chris Akrigg and Blake Samson, Ashton rode through the Snowdonia mountains in North Wales, using a modified sit-ski chair in place of the saddle. 

The rider, from South Wales, described it as  “best time he’s ever had on a bike” as he cycled down the track at speed, negotiating tough bends and even performing the odd trick. 

He said: “Of course I have questioned if I’ll walk again and I don’t know if I will or not.

“But with riding a mountain bike, for whatever reason, it was always ‘how are we going to do it’. Never riding a bike again? Well, that never came up.

“I’ve been riding bikes for so long that I think it defines my life. Riding is such a natural thing to me - it’s who I am. I’m not willing to let go of it despite the situation.

“All of us who ride bikes - whatever level it is - has the same feeling when they start riding: the exhilaration of riding. The freedom. For some of us that sticks and never goes away. And for me, it’s like that.

“Being able to mountain bike again feels like I’ve got something back that a higher power took away. I feel like I’ve cheated the game and that feels triumphant.

“As soon as they’ve pushed me off at the top of the summit, I was no longer the guy in a wheelchair.

“We were four mountain bikers riding together and we were having so much fun. I was having the best time I’ve ever had on a bike. Genuinely.”

You can watch the inspirational ride here:

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Griepel wins as Froome gains time on rivals

Cycle//Tour de France

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Andre Greipel won Stage 2 of the Tour de France in a four-way sprint after a ride badly affected by weather. 

Greipel pipped Peter Sagan by a tyre's breadth to claim the stage victory, while Fabian Cancellara finished in third ahead of Mark Cavendish. 

With time bonuses being awarded to first, second and third placed riders, Cancellara's finish gives him the yellow jersey on day three. 

Chris Froome was delighted with the day's work, finishing in the leading group and gaining a healthy advantage on his rivals. The stage travelled aong the Dutch coast to the Zelande, meaning huge crosswinds were a problem for much of the ride. But a storm brought even stronger winds and plenty of rain to liven things up. 

The weather conditions resulted in a broken peloton. Froome and one rival, Alberto Contador, managed to stay with the leading group. But reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali and Movistar's Nairo Quintana fell behind in the second group and ended up losing more than a minute against their GC rivals. It means Froome is the best placed of the four main contenders and holds an unexpected, healthy lead over Nibali and Quintana after two just stages. 

“I’m really thankful to my team-mates today,” said Froome. “They kept me in front all day, especially when it mattered when that split happened. I think everyone was hoping that storm was going to hold off until after the finish, but that wasn’t to be today and I’m just glad it worked out the way it did. I had the support from my team-mates when I really needed it in the final split. They did a great job keeping me up there. We’re two days down now and I couldn’t have hoped for much more.”

“We were unlucky,” said Nibali. “We chased a long time. What could we do? This is cycling. The bad days you have to accept."

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Rohan Dennis Wins Yellow after Record-Breaking Time Trial

Cycle//Tour de France

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Rohan Dennis has secured his first ever yellow jersey, thumping his rivals in a record-breaking individual time-trial run in the opening stage of the Tour de France.

The BMC rider finished the flat 14km Utrecht course in less than 15 minutes, recording the fastest average pace for an individual time trial in Tour de France history at 55.446km/ph. However, Dennis' team said their tracking data suggested the course was 300m shorter than officials said, meaning he wouldn't have broken the record. But race organisers are sticking to the stage length. 

Tony Martin, one of the pre-stage favourites, finished five seconds behind with Fabian Cancellera a further second behind. 

Steve Cummings was the best placed British rider in 10th, 32 seconds behind Dennis. Team Sky's Geraint Thomas finished 12th on the same time. 

Among the leaders, reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali gained an early advantage, picking up seven seconds on Chris Froome, eight seconds on Alberto Contador and 46 seconds on Nairo Quintana. 

 

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Preview: Stages 1-3

Cycle//Tour de France

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After weeks, or maybe even months of build-up and preparation, the 102nd Tour de France gets into gear with the Grand Depart in Utrecht, Netherlands on Saturday. 

Stage 1 - Individual time trial: Utrecht - Utrecht (13.8km)

The 2015 Tour de France starts with an individual time trial starting and finishing in Utrecht. The short, twisty stage is sure to favour a puncheur. The stage is largely flat with two slight inclines, one which is near the finish line, that could pose some problems for tired legs. 

German time-trial champion Tony Martin will be one of the favourites to wear the yellow jersey on the second day, but the likes of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara and Great Britain's Geraint Thomas are sure to be up there. 

Stage 2 - Utrecht - Zelande (166km)

Stage two sees the riders leave Utrecht, passing through the city of Rotterdam before arriving in Zelande. Despite being a relatively short for a flat stage, it is likely to be one of the most difficult as the riders make their way along the Dutch coast, creating huge crosswinds. It could cause a lot of problems and create gaps in the peloton. The teams will have to make sure their leader is near the front of any broken peloton so as not to lose time against their rivals early on. A sprinter is most likely to cross the line first in Zelande. 

Stage 3 - Antwerp - Huy (159.5km)

The riders move into Belgium for the third stage on this year's Tour. Featuring four categorised climbs and a steep finish, it could see some of the yellow jersey contenders attempt to gain some time on their rivals. The stage finishes on the Mur de Huy, a climb of 19% gradients. But at just 1km long, contenders will need to be well placed to avoid losing time against their rivals. The sprint section comes late in the stage, just over 30km from the finish. Puncheurs like Alejandro Valverde or Joaquim Rodriguez are favourites, but Geraint Thomas has been working on his climbs, so could be a contender. 

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