The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

July 1, 2013

At Tour, walking wounded win by soldiering on

(Continued)

Bakelants got to celebrate on the podium and share his joy.

"It's fantastic," the RadioShack team rider said.

Thomas just got to fight — make that suffer — for another day. From the field of 198 riders, just two finished behind Thomas. The other 195 were ahead.

He said Saturday's pileup is a bit of a blur.

"I remember just flipping straight over and, you know, just landing straight on my back," he said.

Froome's most dangerous rival for overall victory, two-time former champion Alberto Contador, was another of those caught in that crash. The Spaniard said he, too, was sore on Sunday, although he rode well — staying in the main pack that finished one second behind Bakelants.

"It was difficult to start off. There is pain in your whole body," Contador said. "You feel bad here, here and here," he said, pointing to his shoulder and elbow and hip.

Froome and other candidates for overall victory also were in Contador's group. So going into Monday's stage, the third and last on Corsica before the Tour crosses back onto the French mainland, the main contenders remain on an equal footing.

Froome, however, looks particularly fresh and strong. On the road into Ajaccio, the Briton made an impression and maybe scored a few psychological points by sprinting away from the pack for a while. It was a tactical move that perhaps would have impressed Ajaccio's most famous son, Napoleon Bonaparte, the wily military and political leader of France born there in 1769.

Froome said the burst of speed was merely to keep him safe and out of any more crashes. But with a smile, he added: "It's always good to keep people on their toes."

There were no smiles from his teammate, Thomas. He climbed gingerly off his bike. Later, sitting in a Team Sky car, he took an age to pull on fresh socks, wincing from the effort.

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