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Nibali Losing Ground Before Mountains

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July 11, 2015 – Reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali said he had “no legs” on the final climb to the finish of Saturday’s eighth stage of the Tour de France.

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

The 30-year-old Italian lost contact with the lead bunch on the 2km climb to the finish at Mur de Bretagne with its average gradient of 6.9 percent. He gave up another 10sec to race leader Chris Froome, the man he succeeded as Tour champion, and now sits 13th overall at 1min 48sec.

“I had a bad day. I felt good at the beginning of the stage but at the end, I couldn’t feel anything any more, I didn’t have any legs any more,” said the Astana team leader.

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The Sicilian will have another chance to claw back some time in Sunday’s team timetrial before Monday’s rest day and then the start of major hostilities in the mountains on Tuesday. While Froome has been in excellent form and showing his strength every day, his main rivals for the yellow jersey have all had their struggles. Nairo Quintana is even further behind than Nibali at 1min 56sec in 16th but Alberto Contador is seventh, just 36sec back.

“Finally! I’ve finished the first part of the Tour and avoided any crashes. Tomorrow (Sunday) it will be full gas in the team timetrial,” said Contador, a twice former Tour winner.

Quintana’s Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde said the Tour starts now for his team and leader. “There’s a serious test for all of us tomorrow with the TTT; for our team, the ‘real Tour’ is starting on Sunday,” said the Spaniard, who was fourth overall last year.

“We went through many difficult days so far, other ones where we had to fight a bit less, but the terrain most suiting us starts now. “Let’s hope we can finish up there tomorrow. We’re really strong at the moment, all the nine of us, and we hope to profit from that form tomorrow.”