Auto crash victim Degenkolb back in business

Auto crash victim Degenkolb back in business

Auto crash victim Degenkolb back in business

Gaviria was involved in the bunch sprint finish of today's section of the 2018 Tour.

Questions will be asked about the leadership issue at Sky after Geraint Thomas abandoned Froome when a mechanical failure saw the four-time victor crash late on. Thomas lies second on the general classification, 43 seconds behind Van Avermaet.

The Irishman, victor of stage six on the Mur-de-Bretagne, was one of several riders to fall with Quick-Step Floors' Julian Alaphilippe and Tom Skujins in the polka-dot jersey also caught out.

A slight brush against Alexander Kristoff saw him sit up, but by then Groenewegen had already gone as the LottoNL-Jumbo rider led home Quick-Step Floors' Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe.

But there was drama in behind, with Richie Porte forced to abandon the race after an early fall, and four-time victor Chris Froome, Mikel Landa and Rigoberto Uran also hitting the deck.

Van Avermaet won the single-day cobblestone Paris-Roubaix race in 2017.

Romain Bardet endured a testing day as he sustained three punctures but, like Landa, lost just seven seconds on Froome and the GC contenders.

"The breakaway was kind of a déjà vu at Paris-Roubaix three years ago".

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"You start doubting if you can still do it", Degenkolb said.

As Movistar veteran Alejandro Valverde puts it, "You can't win the Tour on the cobbles, but you sure can lose it".

Riders will try to stay upright as they bump and bounce their way over 15 cobbled paths scattered along 22 kilometers of the 156.5-kilometer course of Stage 9 from Arras to Roubaix, near the Belgian border. I have been through a lot of things it was such a hard time.

The route starting in Arras contained the highest number of cobblestone sections since the 1980 Tour, with almost 22 kilometers altogether.

Others who crashed included: Dylan Groenewegen, the Dutch rider who won the previous two stages; Froome's Sky teammates Egan Bernal and Michal Kwiatkowski; American hope Tejay van Garderen and Italian sprinter Sonny Colbrelli.

"It's going to be hell alright", one photographer told AFP, and the 30-degree Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) heat and the dry conditions that have prevailed since late spring in the region will make it worse.

The riders now face a long transfer to Annecy, but have Monday's rest day before the race moves into the Alps and the true battle for yellow emerges, albeit without one of its biggest likely protagonists in Porte.

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