Van Avermaet takes 1st mountain stage and yellow jersey

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LE LIORAN, France —¬†Belgian rider Greg van Avermaet won the first mountain stage of the Tour de France with an audacious solo attack in the Massif Central on Wednesday and also claimed the overall leader’s yellow jersey.

The BMC rider was part of an early nine-man breakaway and he methodically whittled down the group before accelerating past fellow Belgian Thomas De Gendt with 17 kilometers (10 miles) to go on the penultimate climb of the day.

Defending champion Chris Froome and two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana finished in the main pack, while Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali struggled.

Van Avermaet also won a stage in last year’s Tour and is known as a specialist at single-day classics and short stage races, having won Paris-Tours in 2011 and the Tirreno-Adriatico this year.