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TOUR DE FRANCE

Tour de France stage 10: Kittel wins sprint finish

Marcel Kittel won stage 10 of the 2013 Tour de France on Tuesday after a 197-km race from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois across to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast. Britain's Chris Froome, who races for Team Sky managed to hold on to the yellow jersey.

Tour de France stage 10: Kittel wins sprint finish
Photo: Tour de France

Germany's Marcel Kittel of Argos dominated a group sprint to win the 10th stage of the Tour de France, held over 197 km between Saint Gildas des Bois and Saint Malo on Tuesday.

Yellow jersey holder Chris Froome of Team Sky finished just behind the sprinters to retain his lead of 1min 25sec on Spaniard Alejandro Valverde of Movistar.

Kittel, the winner of stage one when the German also took the yellow jersey, pipped compatriot Andre Greipel (Lotto) to become the first sprinter on this year's 100th edition to win two stages.

British champion Mark Cavendish finished a distant third, but the Lotto rider could face sanctions from race officials after he was shown to have barged into one of Kittel's Argos teammates in the closing 150 metres.

The incident sent Tom Veelers flying and the Dutchman was lucky to escape with no serious injuries.

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On a day the peloton were hit with crosswinds as they successfully reeled in a five-man breakaway, Froome was only too happy to avoid being caught up in the crash which saw Dutchman Tom Veelers hit the ground after Cavendish barged into him.

"That's always everyone's worst nightmare, getting caught in a pile-up," said Sky team leader Froome. "Fortunately I was to the side of that crash and went around it no problems."

Veelers, who sustained no serious injuries but admitted he was "bruised and scratched", said: "I think it's clear to see on the video that he (Cavendish) is riding me into the ground."

But asked if Cavendish should be disqualified, the Dutchman replied: "I'll leave that up to the jury. I'm not the one who decides."

Veelers had slowed down after finishing off leading out Kittel and the Dutchman found himself crashing to the ground at speed after the Manxman barged in from the right.

Remarkably, race jury president Vicente Tortajada Villaroya cleared Cavendish of any wrongdoing.

"Veelers had done his job for Kittel, he was tired and he was looking down. If we have to blame anyone, it is Veelers," said the Spanish official.

"There has been no complaint from Argos, but we were not considering sanctions or a disqualification."

Cavendish, the British champion and the winner of 24 stages on the race, finished third and later declared his innocence.

"The commissaires are already putting the blame on me… you can see he (Veelers) moves a little bit right, I move a little bit left, it's not like I took his wheel, I'm following the road," he said.

"It was the arms that touched anyway."

Later, on his twitter feed, Cavendish posted a message which read: "There's no way I'd move on a rider deliberately, especially one not contesting a sprint. I hope @tom_veelers is ok."

The 11th stage is a 33km time trial from Avranches to Mont Saint Michel and should see Froome, the Olympic bronze medallist in the discipline, extend his lead over rivals like Valverde, Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans.

Overall standings after the 10th stage of the Tour de France, a 197km ride from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo on Tuesday:

   1. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 41h52min 43sec
   2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) at 1:25.
   3. Bauke Mollema (NED/BKN) 1:44.
   4. Laurens ten Dam (NED/BKN) 1:50.
   5. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/SAX) 1:51.
   6. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 1:51.
   7. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 2:02.
   8. Daniel Martin (IRL/GRM) 2:28.
   9. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 2:31.
   10. Rui Costa (POR/MOV) 2:45.
   11. Mikel Nieve (ESP/EUS) 2:55.
   12. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 3:07.
   13. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) 3:25.
   14. Jean Christophe Peraud (FRA/ALM) 3:29.
   15. Andy Schleck (LUX/RSH) 4:00.
   16. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 4:36.
   17. Michael Rogers (AUS/SAX) 6:14.
   18. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 6:16.
   19. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) 6:40.
   20. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 7:09.

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SPORT

Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

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Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.

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