Froome wearing yellow during 9th stage of Tour de France

by Virginia Benson Julio 12, 2016, 3:13

While the reigning champion Chris Froome maintained the yellow jersey, another former champion in Alberto Contador bowed out of the Tour de France on stage nine.

However a combination of the injuries sustained in crashes on the opening two days of the race and a fever that set in last night saw the Spaniard abandon the race today with 100km still to ride.

"I could not keep going, " Contador later said at his team hotel.

Contador's made a name for himself as a fearless bike rider who's prepared to take huge risks in search of victory.

Steve Cummings' magical solo ride to victory over the Col d'Aspin proved the strength in depth of this gilded generation of British talent, and Chris Froome's crazed but brillliant descent from the Peyresourde into Luchon and the maillot jaune will be remembered as one of the great rides of the Tour. He has won seven Grand Tours in total, but never finished either second or third.

His attack early on Sunday's stage was typical of his brazen riding style, particularly in his battles with Froome.

According to oddsmakers at Bovada.lv, Froome is now a -150 to win the Tour de France this year. "It's something less to worry about but it's a pity".

He and Valverde were absorbed into the peloton, and Contador went to the back where he appeared to have a deep conversation with a Tinkoff team auto.

"I don't think if he drops off a bit he should sit up and go for stages".

Going into the first rest day of the 2016 tour, we have no doubt that this break is welcomed by all the riders and especially those who have worked so hard over the past week to secure points in all the jersey competitions. "I'll rest up and see how the legs come out after".

"They already have shown themselves as contenders", Froome said of Yates and Martin.

"We are not going to have to chase his attacks 100 kilometers out anymore, it's one of the less things for us to worry about, but it's maybe a shame of the race", Froome said.

Mark Cavendish is never slow to complain, but by winning half of the first six stages has given real credence to his argument that reports of his demise had always been exagerated.

The only major incident involving Froome so far came when a fan running alongside the road got too close during Saturday's eighth stage. How important those turn out to be remains to be seen come the finale in Paris.

Portugal's Rui Costa was second at 38 seconds with Rafal Majka of Poland third at the end of the 184 stage that started with temperatures at 41 Celsius (106 Farenheit) before the weather changed abruptly into driving rain and hail in Andorra.

Top level professional cycling is highly structured, for various reasons - the use of earphones, the allocation of WorldTour points, the sheer importance of television time - which tends to discourage individual initiative.

"At the back of my mind, I was waiting for Nairo Quintana to attack until we reached the last kilometer. I think they're fantastic", he said.

Quintana's Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde defended his leader.

Finally, Froome accelerated halfway up the climb and the race was on with Quintana sticking to his wheel. "Nobody knows when that might be".

"It's awful to have crashed like this twice in the first week and to have lost so much time after working so hard to be here". His biggest rival, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), is within 23 seconds and a total of eight riders are within a minute.

Yesterday was a stage filled with extremes as riders spend much of their time trying to cool themselves down in the unbearable heat of the Pyrenees, before the cycling through hail stones on the final climb of the day.

He is also expecting to lose "4 minutes" to Froome in Friday's individual time trial, a speciality in which the 58 kg climber struggles.

"I'm really happy with that", said Froome, who leads Yates by 16 seconds in the general classification. Since then, Cavendish has added two more bunch sprint wins and is now, with 29, the second most prolific stage victor in Tour history after Eddy Merckx's 34.

"I wasn't feeling so good but suddenly it all comes together. But for now, definitely not".


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