x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Tour de France: 'Short and flat' stage will suit race leader Chris Froome

Favourite to win this year's competition hopes for incident-free day after Mark Cavendish's name is cleared for allegedly having caused a crash.

Chris Froome has the yellow jersey at the Tour de France so far. Bryn Lennon / Getty Images
Chris Froome has the yellow jersey at the Tour de France so far. Bryn Lennon / Getty Images

Chris Froome is hoping for an incident-free day and the chance to take more time out of his Tour de France rivals on Wednesday after Mark Cavendish was at the centre of a controversial finish in Saint-Malo on Tuesday night.

Cavendish collided with Dutchman Tom Veelers 100 metres from the line on stage 10 as the Manxman tried to get in position for a sprint finish, and Veelers demanded Cavendish be disqualified after tumbling to the ground.

Cavendish stayed upright to finish third behind Veelers' teammate Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel, and race organisers verified that result, saying Veelers was more the man at fault as he was easing off after delivering Kittel to the finish.

But that verdict only came after Cavendish had reacted angrily to questioning about the incident, cutting off reporters by snatching a tape recorder and putting it on his team bus.

"The road was bearing left," Cavendish said.

"I know you're trying to get all the 'Mark Cavendish is a really bad sprinter' stuff again but with 150 metres to go the road bears left. All I do is follow the road."

Veelers was fuming, saying "I'm a little finished with Cavendish", while Greipel described the incident as "unnecessary" on Twitter.

As the dust settled, Cavendish was no closer to getting back into the battle for the green jersey, trailing Peter Sagan by 103 points and Greipel by 20, while he must also wait to tie Andre Leducq, who remains alone in third on the all-time for Tour stage wins with 25.

At least there will be little danger of a crash on Wednesday with the first of the two individual time trials in this year's Tour.

Froome in the yellow jersey was close behind when Veelers fell but got past safely to remain one minute and 25 seconds ahead of closest challenger Alejandro Valverde in the general classification.

Wednesday's 33-kilometre time trial should offer the Kenyan-born Briton the chance to extend that lead as he is considered stronger in the discipline than his main rivals Valverde and Alberto Contador.

"The time trial is potentially a big day for us in the general classification," Froome said.

"I can't look too much at other guys' performances, but I'm going to give it my absolute best shot."

When Froome last competed against Valverde and Contador in a time trial he took more than two and a half minutes out of the Spaniards over a similar distance at the Criterium du Dauphine.

That will give Froome hope of leading by more than three minutes by the time he finishes in front of the Normandy landmark in Mont-Saint-Michel, a Unesco world heritage site.

"It's in my favour as it's short, flat and it suits me," Froome added.

"I've definitely got to try to go for it and extend my lead."

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