SAINT-AMAND-MONTROND, France — Mark Cavendish won the 13th stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish earlier today and Chris Froome lost a sizeable chunk of his overall lead after being caught by Alberto Contador.
Cavendish moved ahead with about 100 meters to go and rival Peter Sagan, the defending champion and current leader in the sprinters’ green jersey contest, was unable to stay with him.
It was the British sprinter’s second stage win of the Tour and 25th overall — moving him into third place with Frenchman Andre Leducq on the all-time list of Tour stage winners.
“My team did an incredible job today,” Cavendish said. “We’re going to have some Champagne tonight.”
His relief was clear to see as he rushed into the arms of teammate Sylvain Chavanel after the stage. On Thursday his teammates had put him into a great position to attack but he was beaten to the line by Marcel Kittel of Germany.
“Yesterday they gave everything and I let them down,” Cavendish said. “The Tour de France is the most incredible race in the world. It means so much to me. When I think about it, it makes me want to cry.”
Flat stages are normally relatively free of incident, but the 173-kilometer (107.5-mile) trek from Tours, which is surrounded by the Loire river, to Saint-Amand-Montrond in central France was exciting and showed that even Froome’s formidable Sky team can be vulnerable.
“There’s no such thing as a calm stage on the Tour de France,” Froome said.
With about a third of the stage gone, the main pack was split into three and Alejandro Valverde dropped way out of overall contention after stopping to repair a puncture. He dropped out of the top 10 after losing a huge amount of time.