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John Degenkolb wins crash-filled, cobblestoned Stage 9 of the Tour de France

John Degenkolb wins crash-filled, cobblestoned Stage 9 of the Tour de France
Rafal Majka hits the ground, as Olivier Naesen goes in the air during one of many crashes in the cobblestone-filled 9th stage of the Tour de France on Sunday. (Kim Ludbrook / European Pressphoto Agency)

John Degenkolb won a three-man sprint to conclude the action-packed cobblestoned Stage 9 of the Tour de France on Sunday, while overall contender Richie Porte crashed out of the race and favorite Chris Froome overcame a tumble.

Yellow-jersey holder Greg Van Avermaet crossed second and increased his overall lead to 43 seconds ahead of Geraint Thomas, a teammate of Froome at Team Sky. Yves Lampaert of Quick-Step finished third.

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Four-time Tour champion Chris Froome crossed in the main pack, 27 seconds behind, having had a fan help him get going again when he fell with 45 kilometers (28 miles) to go.

Froome moved up to eighth overall, 1:42 behind Van Avermaet, who is not a threat in the mountains.

Porte, the BMC team leader, crashed 10 kilometers into the 156.5-kilometer (97-mile) leg — before any of the 15 cobblestone sections — and abandoned with an apparent right shoulder injury.

Porte also crashed out of last year's Tour in the ninth stage, on a mountain descent.

Rigoberto Uran, last year's runner-up, and Mikel Landa, one of three leaders of the Movistar team, also each crashed and lost time.

Romain Bardet, the French hope who finished on the podium the last two years, struggled through three punctured tires but kept his losses to a minimum.

Among the favorites in the overall standings apart from Froome: Alejandro Valverde is fifth (1:31 behind); Rafal Majka sixth (1:32); Jakob Fuglsang seventh (1:33); Adam Yates ninth (1:42); Landa 10th (1:42); and Vincenzo Nibali 12th (1:48).

It was the first career victory at the Tour for Degenkolb, a German who rides for the Trek-Segafredo team. Degenkolb won the Paris-Roubaix single-day classic, which covers much of the same course, in 2015.

“This is a very big victory,” said Degenkolb, who came back from a serious training accident 2 1/2 years ago. “I have been through a lot of things; it was such a hard time.”

Degenkolb became the third rider to win both Paris-Roubaix and a cobbled stage at the Tour after Roger De Vlaeminck and Bernard Hinault. His average speed over the stage was 45.9 kph overall and 39.8 kph on the cobbles.

The route starting in Arras contained the highest number of cobblestone sections since the 1980 Tour, with nearly 22 kilometers altogether.

Although it wasn't rainy and muddy like in April for Paris–Roubaix, the heat and sun made it dusty and dry.

Others who crashed included: Dylan Groenewegen, the Dutch rider who won the previous two stages; Froome's Sky teammates Egan Bernal and Michal Kwiatkowski; American hope Tejay van Garderen and Italian sprinter Sonny Colbrelli.

Spanish rider Gorka Izaguirre had to stop when his rear wheel became badly buckled.

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After the first rest day Monday, the Tour resumes in the Alps on Tuesday with a 98.5-mile leg from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand featuring three Category 1 climbs and one beyond-category ascent.

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