Froome and Contador back in control on Tour

Sun Jul 5, 2015 12:46pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

ZEELAND, Netherlands (Reuters) - One year after crashing out of the race, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador were back in control of the Tour de France, hurting their main rivals in a hectic second stage won by German Andre Greipel on Sunday.

Crosswinds and crashes caused several splits as the peloton made its way through heavy rain on a 166-kilometre ride from Utrecht, with Froome and Contador ending up in a small leading group that also included American Tejay van Garderen as they finished one minute 28 seconds ahead of the main pack.

In that pack was defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, Colombian Nairo Quintana and France’s Thibaut Pinot, who could only limit the damage after being trapped behind on a stage that went along the North Sea.

Greipel was the fastest in the finishing straight, outsprinting Slovakian Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara, with the Swiss taking the overall leader’s yellow jersey from Australia's Rohan Dennis.

Pre-stage favorite Mark Cavendish of Britain could only manage a disappointing fourth place.

Briton Froome, the 2013 Tour champion, crashed out of the Tour on the fifth stage last year, while Spain's Contador, who is attempting a rare Giro d'Italia/Tour double, abandoned his 2014 race after breaking his shinbone in a crash.

"This a huge advantage for us to sit in this position after one flat day out on the road," Team Sky rider Froome told reporters.

"This is a three-week race and things do change on a daily basis. We’re ahead today but who knows what’s in store for us for the rest of the week,"   Continued...

Lotto-Soudal rider Andre Greipel of Germany (R) celebrates as he wins ahead of Tinkoff-Saxo rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia (L) at the 166-km (103.15 miles) second stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Utrecht to Zeeland, July 5, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier