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5 things to know about Tour de France

  • Article by: JAMEY KEATEN
  • Associated Press
  • July 6, 2013 - 2:35 AM

ALBI, France — Five things to know as the Tour de France enters its eighth stage on Saturday:

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1. SLOGGING SPRINTERS — The sprinting stars faded in Friday's Stage 7. While they've each won a stage already, Britain's Mark Cavendish and German pair Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel were left behind over four midgrade climbs — and the one top sprinter who does get over the ascents easier, Slovakia's Peter Sagan, won the stage. The tally? After more than 600 miles of racing, only two finishes have pitted the best sprinters. They'll be even more inconspicuous in the mountains this weekend.

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2. ALBI BACK — Friday's 128-mile trek from Montpellier took riders to Albi, the 12th time the Tour has ended a stage in the medieval city that ranks among UNESCO World Heritage sites, in part for its towering Sainte-Cecile Cathedral and 11th century Old Bridge. For AG2R rider Blel Kadri, who seized the polka-dot jersey awarded to the Tour's best climber on Friday, it was a homecoming of sorts — the French rider got his cycling license in Albi and said his success Friday was rewarding because "people know me" here.

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3. DANGER AT EVERY TURN: When riders zoom along the roads of France it is difficult enough controlling the bikes without thinking about the perils on the roadside. Thousands of fans line the route every day: American veteran Christian Vande Velde said "the dangerous thing about it is people not understanding how fast we're actually going ... there should be like a public announcement on TV, like: 'This could happen to you.'" For Vande Velde those scary days in the saddle will soon be a thing of the past. This was always going to be the 37-year-old's last Tour — and it ended badly for him when he crashed Friday and had to pull out

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