Tour de France leader Chris Froome lost valuable time on Friday after former champion Alberto Contador attacked in the flat 13th stage, won by Briton Mark Cavendish.
Froome held on to the leader’s yellow jersey but lost one minute nine seconds to Contador after being left behind as the Spaniard and his Saxo-Tinkoff team mates accelerated away.
Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who had started the day second overall, also lost out when he had a mechanical problem at the 84-km mark of the 173-km stage through central France and the peloton did not wait for him.
Team Sky’s Froome, who had gone into the stage 3:25 ahead, now leads by 2:28 over Dutchman Bauke Mollema who was third on the day.
Contador, the champion in 2007 and 2009, moved up to third place overall, 2:45 behind, after finishing seventh.
“I think it’s another reminder to us that we have got to be on our toes all the time in stages like this that look simple on paper,” Froome, who lost team mate Edvald Boasson Hagen to a shoulder injury on Thursday, told ITV television.
Cavendish, who won a sprint to the line with green jersey holder Peter Sagan of Slovakia, collected his 25th Tour stage win to go joint third on the all-time list and paid tribute to his Omega Pharma-Quickstep team mates, saying: “I am so, so happy, so proud of the guys, they rode out of their skin today.”