Spanish rider Omar Fraile claimed the lead with a late burst at the 14th stage of this year's Tour, a new highlight in the youngster's career. The overall leaders finished well adrift, but all together.
Astana rider Omar Fraile hauled in breakaway rider Jasper Stuyven of Belgium late in the stage on Saturday, claiming the lead near the summit of the Cote de Croix Neuve, a three-kilometer ascent at a punishing average gradient of 10.2 percent.
Fraile was part of the small pack of climbers chasing down Stuyven in the latter stages, including current "King of the Mountains" leader Julian Alaphilippe. The polka-dot jersey holder, who maintains that honor, was actually the fastest climbing Cote de Croix Neuve, but he made his charge slightly later than Fraile and couldn't catch the Spaniard before the finish.
Alaphilippe crossed the line second, just in front of Stuyven.
Green jersey holder Peter Sagan also kept pace with the leading bunch. Sagan rolled in fourth, extending his already-enormous lead among the depleted field of sprint specialists. The Slovakian now has more than double the points of his closest challenger, Alexander Kristoff.
Thomas retains yellow jersey
The peloton fell almost 20 minutes behind the day's leaders on the tough stage, with all those hoping for overall victory choosing safety in numbers. Team Sky's Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome crossed the line together, maintaining first and second positions, with Froome 99 seconds adrift of his Welsh teammate overall. Tom Dumoulin is next in line, 11 seconds further back, while fourth-placed Primoz Roglic clawed a few seconds back on the front three with a late sprint.
Saturday's 188-kilometer stage ran from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Mende, while Sunday's ride from Millau to Carcassone is another mountainous ride tailor-made for the specialist climbers like Alaphilippe and Saturday's stage-winner Fraile.
msh/jh (AFP, Reuters)