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Spaniard rules 14th

MENDE, France (AFP) – Spaniard Omar Fraile ended Bel­gian hopes of a Tour de France victory on their national holiday with a gutsy, maiden victory on the race on the 14th stage Sat­urday.

 The pack rides during the 14th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 188 kilometers (116.8 miles) with start in Saint-Paul Trois-Chateaux and Mende, France. (AP)

The pack rides during the 14th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 188 kilometers (116.8 miles) with start in Saint-Paul Trois-Chateaux and Mende, France. (AP)

Britain’s Geraint Thomas, of Team Sky, retained the race leader’s yellow jersey after cross­ing the line with teammate Chris Froome and Dutch rival Tom Du­moulin (Sunweb) just over 18 minutes in arrears.

With four days of climbing in the Pyrenees yet to decide the outcome of the yellow jersey, the main peloton and all the race fa­vourites were happy to allow an early breakaway escape in the opening kilometers.

Intentions seemed clear on Belgium’s national holiday after seven Belgians got in among a group of 32 frontrunners including Philippe Gilbert and yellow jersey holder Greg Van Avermaet.

But Astana rider Fraile, who claimed his maiden Giro d’Italia stage last year following a long breakaway, was desperate for a repeat.

‘‘It was one of the stages I had marked and when I saw the breakaway go, I told myself that I had to get in it,’’ he said.

When Jasper Stuyven (Trek) capitalised on a mid-race spat be­tween Gilbert and Fraile to break away on his own with over 30km to race, it looked like Belgium would have an extra reason to celebrate.

But Stuyven fell victim to his lack of climbing prowess.

He held a 1min 40sec lead on a group of chasers with 10km to race, with the main peloton and Thomas at over 20 minutes in arrears.

 

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