5 things to know about Tour de France

  • Article by: JAMEY KEATEN
  • Associated Press
  • July 8, 2013 - 2:25 AM

BAGNERES-DE-BIGORRE, France — Five things to know as the Tour de France enters its first rest day on Monday:


1. TRY AS YOU MIGHT: Chris Froome single-handedly quashed several attempts by rivals to wrest the overall race lead from him as the Tour left the Pyrenees and headed into the first — and widely desired — rest day of the three-week race. With his Sky teammates worn out after helping him capture the yellow jersey a day earlier, the 28-year-old Briton found himself alone against his top rivals for much of Sunday's Stage 9 ride up and down five mountain passes. A relieved Froome said he understood his teammates might've been tired, and that he was happy that the other contenders like two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador and fellow Spaniard Alejandro Valverde didn't press the pace more.


2. FAMILY TIES: Daniel Martin became the fifth Irish rider to win a Tour stage in the 100-year history of the race on Sunday, and the first since ... his uncle. Stephen Roche became the only Irishman in 1987 to win the Tour. He collected three stage wins in his career, the last in 1992. "It's staying in the family, eh?" quipped a silver-haired Roche at the finish of the 105-mile ride from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre. His sister is the mother of Martin, who was born in Birmingham, England. The proud uncle — whose son Nicolas Roche is riding in the Tour for Saxo Bank — told French TV that Martin, the 26-year-old Garmin-Sharp rider, is an under-recognized talent who could one day finish on the Tour podium. "It's wonderful that Daniel won here. ... He's a good guy, and he deserves it because he's really worked hard to get there," Roche said.


3. HOLLANDE'S HOPES: What Tour de France would be complete without a visit from the French president? Francois Hollande dropped in on Sunday, making good on what's nearly become a rite of passage for the head of state in recent years. Jacques Chirac visited; so did Hollande's immediate predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy — a cycling buff and longtime admirer of Lance Armstrong. Despite the heat and relaxing weekend feel, Hollande wore a suit as he rode in a car with Tour chief Christian Prudhomme during Stage 9. He then expressed hopes in an interview with French TV that cycling has turned the corner on doping. Cycling has "paid a heavy price" in the past, Hollande said, adding "I want to believe the Tour is clean."

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