Stage7: Christopher Froome shows his form.
Race favourite Bradley Wiggins took command of the Tour de France Saturday as Sky teammate Christopher Froome secured a deserved maiden victory on stage seven. Nairobi-born Froome’s victory, his first on the world’s biggest bike race, comes less than a year after a runner-up place at the Tour of Spain.
Defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia finished second, with Wiggins in third only seconds behind as Sky’s pace on the final, 5.9 km climb to the race’s first hilltop finish exacted a costly toll on some main contenders, including Frank Schleck and Andreas Kloden. Italian Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas, considered the biggest challenger to Evans and Wiggins, is third at 16 seconds.
Other big news was South Africa’s Robbie Hunter has been forced to pull out after a series of accidents in the opening week.
Hunter confirmed his withdrawal via Twitter: Might as well hear it from me.I couldn’t start, got stress fractures in a vertebrae & its progressively gotten worse.Hugely disappointed!!!
Been trying to ride through the pain but woke up this am & I’m battling to walk never mind ride.at this point I gotta worry about my health!
There were many other riders who did not start stage 7 including reigning Giro d’Italia winner and Hunter’s team-mate, Ryder Hesjedal.
Stage 8: Frank Schleck finds his legs.
Frenchman Thibaut Pinot of FDJ won the eighth stage, his maiden win on what is his debut, after 157.5km of racing over several short but steep climbs in the Swiss Jura that exacted a toll on the peloton.
Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) finished second at 26 seconds, the Australian leading home a select group after a failed attempt to shake off Wiggins on the way to the last summit and on the 16km descent to the finish.
Among the finishers with Evans was Italian rival Vincenzo Nibali, Frank Schleck of Luxembourg and Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck.
Earlier in the stage Spain’s Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez crashed, suffering shoulder and hand injuries that could rule him out of the London Olympics later this month.
Today’s ninth stage is the first of two long time trials in the race, a 41.5km race against the clock around Besancon. Can Cadel claim back the 10 seconds to Wiggins?