9 Jul 2016

Le Tour deflates into chaos

8:03 pm on 9 July 2016

The seventh stage of the Tour de France ended in farcical fashion when an inflatable arch, marking one kilometre to go, deflated and slowed down the bunch, sending Briton Adam Yates to the ground.

An inflatable arch slows up the peloton.

An inflatable arch slows up the peloton. Photo: Photosport

Yates got back on his bike and crossed the line with blood on his chin.

"He was on his own when it happened, the arch fell in front of him and he did not have time to brake so he did a somersault and fell on his face," said his Orica-Bike Exchange sports director Lorenzo Lapage.

"The doctor is checking him...his shoulder is aching."

Yates said: "I'm disappointed. There's not much you can do, I had no time to react.

"It's a good job it was just me on my own. It could have been a lot worse."

Yates lost considerable ground but he and the other riders in the bunch who were slowed down should not lose any time, said race director Thierry Gouvenou.

"We have a time control at the three-kilometre (left) mark so it is likely that we'll be taking the timings at that point."

According to provisional results, Yates finished 30th in the stage and lies 73rd in the overall standings.

Briton Stephen Cummings powered away on the Col d'Aspin to claim a second career stage win.

Stephen Cummings.

Stephen Cummings. Photo: Photosport

Belgian Greg Van Avermaet retained the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Cummings, who last year won in Mende, jumped away from the day's breakaway and held off 2014 Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali on the Col d'Aspin, the first big climb this year, before descending safely to the Lac de Payolle to give his African-based team their fourth stage win this year.

Mark Cavendish had already won three sprints and Cummings showed again that Dimension Data could also play a role in the mountains as the Tour entered the Pyrenees.

"Of all my victories, I think it's the best one. The Tour is the Tour, it's special," Cummings said.

"I didn't need to win a stage this year. I had a different condition from last year as I started the Tour riding for Mark (Cavendish) who is such a winner and an inspiration.

"It's brilliant, it's fantastic."

In the main bunch, Pinot's FDJ team pulled in front at the foot of Aspin, a 12km ascent at an average gradient of 6.5 percent, but the Frenchman, third in the 2014 Tour and one of the top favourites, was then dropped, his face a mask of pain.

He crossed the line more than two-and-a-half minutes behind the other top guns.

South African Daryl Impey (Orica-Bike Exchange) was second and Spain's Dani Navarri (Cofidis) took third place 1:05 behind Cummings.

Cummings was part of a 29-man breakaway that split into several groups with about 30km left. He attacked with 27km remaining and never looked back.

Van Avermaet, who managed to be in the day's break, took fifth place, over a minute ahead of the top favourites to extend his lead to 6:36 over France's Julian Alaphilippe and 6:38 over Spain's Alejandro Valverde.

Defending champion Chris Froome and last year's runner-up Nairo Quintana stayed fifth and seventh respectively, both 6:42 off the pace.