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Froome crashes but gains time on rivals

ESPN staff
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Chris Froome is 20 seconds off leader Alejandro Valverde © Getty Images
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Chris Froome suffered a heavy crash but also gained time on his Vuelta a Espana rivals after a seventh stage of mixed fortunes.

Froome, who abandoned the Tour de France after three crashes over the fourth and fifth stages, hit the ground inside the opening 40km.

The Team Sky leader caught up with the peloton and have cuts on his right arm and knee treated.

He still managed to sprint ahead of the pack at the finish in Alcaudete, and ended up crossing the line two seconds ahead of his fellow contenders in the overall standings.

"I'm feeling OK, but you definitely get the feeling that when bad luck comes, it comes more than once," Froome told teamsky.com.

"But all things considered, I'm feeling all right and I think I got off relatively unscathed. It's good to have another day behind us now.

"When the crash happened, a Giant-Shimano rider went down in front of me just to my left. I swerved to try and avoid that and went down. Then the guys paced me back. It took us a good 15km before we got back into the peloton.

"I will definitely take that [two seconds gained] after a stage like today. At the end of the race you might need all the seconds you can to defend your place. I will keep chipping away and get closer to the time trial."

Alejandro Valverde finished safely in the peloton to retain the leader's red jersey and is 15 seconds ahead of Nairo Quintana; third-placed Alberto Contador is a further three seconds back, with Froome 20 seconds off the lead in fourth.

Alessandro De Marchi claimed victory after bursting away from second-placed Ryder Hesjedal and third-placed Hubert Dupont in the closing stages, winning by one minute and 35 seconds.

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