Vehicle crash victim Degenkolb back in business

by Steven Clarke July 19, 2018, 0:17
Vehicle crash victim Degenkolb back in business

Porte was forced out of the race with a fractured collar bone after crashing before the cobbles arrived. - Peter the Great - There are two teams who have an obvious chance of winning the Arras-Roubaix stage who do not have a leader to protect, and they are Bora-Hansgrohe with Peter Sagan and Quick-Step with Niki Terpstra, Bob Jungels and Philippe Gilbert, none of whom would be a surprise victor.

Van Avermaet expertly navigated the cobbles to finish second behind stage victor John Degenkolb and increased his lead over Froome's Sky teammate Geraint Thomas in the overall standing to 43 seconds.

The 33-year-old was rated among the major threats to Chris Froome claiming a fifth Tour de France victory after finishing fifth behind the Team Sky rider in 2016.

Sunday's ninth stage, which comes just before a much-needed rest day following an opening week of scorching heat, features 21.7 km of cobbled sectors that lighter riders may struggle to adapt to.

Thomas now leads a Team Sky one-two in the overall standings, 85 seconds ahead of four-time Tour victor Chris Froome, as the three-week Grand Tour passed the halfway mark.

Van Avermaet picked up a one-second bonus overall during an intermediate bonus sprint at 20K from the finish.

Degenkolb has pedigree on the pave.

Degenkolb won Paris-Roubaix in 2015, but had endured two years of injuries and setbacks.

But in 2016 the 29-year-old German came close to losing a finger amid a litany of injuries suffered when a auto driving down the wrong side of the road wiped out him and several team-mates during a training ride in Calpe, Spain. "It was unbelievable. This is a very big victory after a very long time".

"This is pure happiness".

"I think it's fantastic, I can't find the right words to express how it feels to win", said Degenkolb, who now has stage wins in all three Grand Tours. "I've got a big bruise on my back and on my hip but from the waist down there's barely a scratch and that's the bit that makes the bike go forward".

Porte has been taken to hospital for x-rays on a suspected broken collarbone.

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.

It was a fraught day for all the favourites, but most will know it could have been worse.

Most of the general classification contenders crossed the line in the main bunch to hold station but UAE Team Emirates' Dan Martin lost 76 seconds after being caught in a crash with 17 kilometres to go.

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