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Tour de France

Field closing gap on Tour leader Chris Froome

Overall leader Christopher Froome (left) lost some ground to Mark Cavendish (center) and other contenders after Cavendish earned his 25th career stage victory.

Jeff Pachoud/Getty Images

Overall leader Christopher Froome (left) lost some ground to Mark Cavendish (center) and other contenders after Cavendish earned his 25th career stage victory.

SAINT-AMAND-MONTROND, France — On a contrasting day for British riders at the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish moved up the list of sprint greats while Chris Froome lost a large chunk of his overall lead to his main rivals.

Cavendish sealed his 25th stage win to move into a tie for third place on the Tour’s all-time list, during an eventful day in which Froome gave up more than one minute to two-time former champion Alberto Contador.

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To make things more worrisome for Froome, he once again had to fend for himself at the end because none of his withering Sky teammates could keep the pace. This is the second stage so far that they have been unable to support him, and with a tough mountain trek looming on Sunday, rivals may try to take advantage.

Dutchman Bauke Mollema is 2 minutes, 28 seconds behind Froome, and Contador is 2:45 back — both having gained 1:09 on the leader.

‘‘I’m just happy I’ve got an advantage of more than two minutes,’’ Froome said.

Sky is down to seven riders — Edvald Boasson Hagen fractured his shoulder Thursday and Vasili Kiryienka was disqualified earlier in the race for missing a time cut. Also, Brit Geraint Thomas is riding with a fractured pelvis.

‘‘[Edvald’s] a huge part of the team and we could really have done with him today and the same with Vasili,’’ Froome said. ‘‘They’re both really strong engines and the team is definitely weakened without those guys.’’

Contador, the Tour champion in 2007 and ’09 who was stripped of his title the following year for doping, is now looking like a serious contender again after struggling in the Pyrenees. Froome knows that Sunday’s massive climb up to Mont Ventoux could have a major bearing on the race.

Contador’s late attack Friday was timed to perfection and caught Froome cold.

‘‘Near the end we saw that many riders were at their limit,’’ Contador said. ‘‘There were a lot of people barely hanging on, and we couldn’t have asked for a better result.’’

Cavendish, meanwhile, was preparing to ‘‘have some Champagne’’ after moving even with Frenchman Andre Leducq on the all-time list of stage winners.

‘‘My team did an incredible job,’’ Cavendish said. ‘‘They rode themselves into the ground.’’

His relief was clear to see as he rushed into the arms of teammate Sylvain Chavanel after the stage. On Thursday his teammates had put him into a great position to attack but he was beaten to the line by Marcel Kittel of Germany.

‘‘Yesterday they gave everything and I let them down,’’ Cavendish said. ‘‘The Tour de France is the most incredible race in the world. It means so much to me. When I think about it, it makes me want to cry.’’

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