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Saturday 10 December 2016

Ireland's Dan Martin's second runner up spot in just five days

Martin battles to the finish but falls just shy of stage win

Britain's Christopher Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides in the pack during the eleventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 188 kilometers (116.8 miles) with start in Pau and finish in Cauterets, France, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
Britain's Christopher Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides in the pack during the eleventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 188 kilometers (116.8 miles) with start in Pau and finish in Cauterets, France, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

CHRIS FROOME enjoyed a safe day in the saddle yesterday, retaining the overall leader's yellow jersey after his rivals failed to attack him on the 11th stage, a 188-km Pyrenean trek won by Pole Rafal Majka.

Ireland's Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) finished second to Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), a mountain finish at Cauteret-Valée de Saint-Savin, his second runner-up placing in five days.

Martin attacked in the final kilometres of the 188km stage in the Pyrenees but couldn't close the gap sufficiently on Majka's solo breakaway and finished exactly a minute down on his Polish rival.

Majka, who last year won the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification, powered away from the group of breakaway riders in the climb up the col du Tourmalet and never looked back.

Team Sky rider Froome finished ninth, 5:21 off the pace, having spent a quiet day in the group of leading riders, with none of his opponents trying to unsettle him.

He only lost two seconds to Spain's Alejandro Valverde, who sprinted in the finale to take eighth place.

A day after Froome and his Sky team mates hammered their rivals, there was a truce in the peloton.

"It was a hard day out there, a lot of guys, I, were feeling effects of yesterday's stage, but also we were keeping in mind we've got a very tough selective stage tomorrow," said Froome afterwards. "The heat was a big factor."

Temperatures reached 35 Celsius in the Pyrenees yesterday, making for a particularly tough day after Tuesday's first mountain stage.

The stage win was contested by the eight men who formed the breakaway, after a fast start from Pau, as Team Sky allowed the group to build a decent lead. Majka was the strongest and he attacked on the steep roads to the tourmalet -- a 17.1-km ascent at an average gradient of 7.3 percent -- to claim victory a day after his team leader Alberto Contador suffered a heavy defeat.

Froome still leads American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) by 2:52 with Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in third place, 3:09 off the pace.

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