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Others in the peloton, though, were simply fighting to finish the stage, with the vast majority of the peloton eventually finishing well outside the time limit, 53 minutes down on winner Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quick Step).
In theory all of these riders could have been sent home, leaving Froome to continue on his own and leaving Direct Energie with no riders at all. But in reality the organisers made the decision to allow all 164 riders start on Monday.
Was this the right decision? The riders certainly think so.
Monday sees a slightly easier stage for the tired peloton - a 156km stage from Alcañiz to Peñiscola, of which the final 66km is either downhill or flat.
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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