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Tour de France stage 16: Froome avoids disaster

Yellow jersey holder Chris Froome and rival Alberto Contador narrowly avoided disaster from a late crash during a dramatic finale to the 16th stage of the Tour de France won by Portuguese Rui Costa on Tuesday.

Tour de France stage 16: Froome avoids disaster
Photo: www.letour.fr

Movistar rider Costa soloed to victory in the undulating 168 km ride from Vaison-La-Romaine to Gap after a late but timely attack on the final climb of the day, the 9.5 km-long Col de Manse.

Costa, taking his second career stage win on the race, had been part of an earlier 26-man breakaway that went on to build a significant lead on the main peloton over the hilly terrain leading to Gap.

He quickly built a lead on four chasers who, despite their efforts, came over the summit with a 45-sec deficit on the Portuguese.

With 11.5 km of downhill remaining, Costa's efforts before the summit paid off and he went on to cross the finish line 42secs ahead of Christophe Riblon, Arnold Jeannesson, Jerome Coppel and German veteran Andreas Kloden.

Meantime Froome, and Spanish rival Contador, who had tested the Briton with several attacks on the way to the Manse summit, both escaped disaster after crashing on one of the tight corners on the descent.

Froome went off the road and had to put one foot on the ground to steady himself, while Contador came off his bike altogether.

With overall second-placed Bauke Mollema showing his class by slowing to allow Froome and Contador to catch up, they resumed racing and finished the stage together in a small group at just over 10 minutes behind Costa.

Team Sky leader Froome retained his 4min 14sec lead on Dutchman Mollema of Belkin with Saxo team leader Contador still in third place at 4:25.

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MILITARY

Swiss army trains for French invasion

A bankrupt France tears itself apart into several regions, and one of them marches over the border to Switzerland to get back its stolen money. The Swiss army has this imaginary scenario covered, according to military simulations revealed over the weekend.

Swiss army trains for French invasion
"Operation Duplex-Barbara": Defend Switzerland and its stolen money from a breakaway French invasion. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Switzerland's army simulated a French attack against their country in training exercises in August, the newspaper Matin Dimanche revealed on Sunday.

The army imagined a scenario in which France was in financial turmoil and had split up into several regional entities.

One of these, “Saônia,” was preparing attacks on Switzerland to retrieve money it had apparently stolen from it.

Operation “Duplex-Barbara” was practiced at the end of August, according to the Swiss daily, and essentially involves the (existing) Jura region of eastern France breaking away from the rest of the country.

“Saônia” then launches the invasion across the Swiss border, with a pro-Saônian government paramilitary group, the BLD (Brigade Libre de Dijon) going “in search of the money Switzerland stole from Saônia,” according to Matin Dimanche.

IN PICTURES: France in the future – what could change

“The exercise has strictly nothing to do with France,” said Daniel Berger, captain of the Swiss armoured brigade.

“It was prepared in 2012 when fiscal relations between both countries were less tense,” he added.

SEE ALSO: French rush over the border to Switzerland – to escape tax hunt

Switzerland is famed for its bank secrecy laws, which critics say have enabled many clients to shield their wealth from the scrutiny of tax inspectors back home.

But these once sacrosanct laws are slowly being eroded as France and other countries such as the United States step up their fight against tax evasion in a troubled economic climate.

SEE ALSO: Swiss recruiters boycott “lazy and arrogant” French workers

In 2012 the Swiss army had imagined a different scenario: one in which they were faced with an influx of refugees after the euro currency had crashed and provoked social chaos in Europe.

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