Chris Froome stimulates up lost time as Sky just miss out on third Tour stage

Chris Froome lost 51 sec to some of his main competitors after crashing on the opening Tour stage but Team Skys effort against the clock around Cholet set him back in contention

Chris Froome began the process of steadily eroding the time lost in Saturday’s opening stage of the Tour after Team Sky finished second here in the first major test, the 35.5 km squad time trial.

” We can be pretty happy ,” he said.” We gave it everything we had and everything there is ran pretty much to scheme. You can never tell who is going to be on a good day or not but all in all it worked out well for us.

” Seeing as I haven’t raced since the Giro it was nice to open up a bit. The last couple of days were a little nervy and not inevitably physically, but more mentally. Today was the first day that we could open up properly .”

Froome lost 51 seconds on the Tour’s opening day after he tumbled into a field close to the end of the stage one finish in Fontenay-le-Comte.” The Tour didn’t start too well but that’s bike racing ,” he said.” Thankfully it was a soft landing in an area. No traumata .”

Froome described it as reassuring that his team had been able to take back some time on his key rivals.” It would have been nice not to have lost it in the first place ,” he said.” But there will be a lot more day lost throughout the general classification group[ of overall contenders] before we reach the mountains. One day you gain, one day you lose. That’s the nature of video games .”

Among the big losers in Monday’s collective endeavour were Vincenzo Nibali and Romain Bardet, whose advantages they held on Team Sky’s leader were wiped out. Another big loser was Mark Cavendish’s Dimension Data team, whose disastrous start to the Tour continued when they finished third-last.

Sky’s ride was not enough to lift Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas into the yellow jersey, with the Welshman losing out to BMC Racing’s Greg Van Avermaet, winner of the men’s road race at the Rio Olympics Games, by three seconds. Van Avermaet’s teammate Richie Porte, one of the pre-race favourites who also lost hour on Saturday, is now, like Froome, clawing his way back up the standings.

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” Throwing away time like that hurts but a lot of other big favourites were in the same barge ,” Porte said.” It’s nice to be back on a level playing field. As Saturday depicted, you can lose time anywhere.

” It’s going to be hectic the next few days. Stages five and six are nasty and there’s potential for hazard there, everywhere. The stage in Finistere[ from Brest to Mur-de-Bretagne] has truly turn the race upside down .”

For Thomas, who wore the yellow jersey during last year’s Tour, it was a painful near-miss.” I’m a bit disappointed not to win ,” he said.” We were there or thereabouts. There was lots of wind, lots of changes of direction, up and down. You’ve got to ride it really well as a squad and we did that. It’s just always disappointing not to win when it’s so close .”

Thomas was of the view that he had been so wrapped up in the team’s performances that he had scarcely thought about his personal ambitions.” You likely won’t believe me but I didn’t think about it ,” he said.” It was all about trying to win the stage. The jersey would have been a nice bonus on top. We just wanted to get that stage.

” We’ve been close in the past in Tour team time trials and we were close but not quite quick enough .”

While Froome and Porte prepare to lock horns in the next week, Lawson Craddock of the Education First team is hoping simply to hang on. Craddock, who also crashed on the opening stage, is riding through the ache of a broken scapula and a left eye that is almost closed. He clung on doggedly to his team’s slipstream.” The pain was more manageable today but then it was a 40 -minute effort compared with a four-hour effort ,” he said.

Having said on Sunday he was taking the race minute by minute, Craddock was asked if he was now taking it stage by stage. “No,” he said.” Perhaps 90 seconds by 90 seconds .”

Quick guide

Tour de France: Overall leaders

1. Greg Van Avermaet ( BEL) BMC Racing Team 9:08: 55 2. Tejay van Garderen ( USA) BMC Racing Team ” 3. Geraint Thomas ( GBR) Team Sky +3 4. Philippe Gilbert ( BEL) Quick-Step Floors + 5 5. Bob Jungels ( LUX) Quick-Step Floors + 7 6. Julian Alaphilippe ( FRA) Quick-Step Floors ” 7. Tom Dumoulin ( NED) Team Sunweb + 11 8. Soren Kragh ( DEN) Team Sunweb “ 9. Michael Matthews ( AUS) Team Sunweb ” 10. Rigoberto Uran ( COL) Team EF Education First – + 35 Drapac p/ b Cannondale 11. Rafal Majka ( POL) BORA – hansgrohe + 50 12. Daniel Oss ( ITA) BORA – hansgrohe ” 13. Jakob Fuglsang ( DEN) Astana Pro Team + 51 14. Richie Porte ( AUS) BMC Racing Team ” 15. Ilnur Zakarin ( RUS) Team Katusha – Alpecin + 52 16. Alejandro Valverde ( ESP) Movistar Team + 53 17. Mikel Landa ( ESP) Movistar Team ” 18. Chris Froome ( GBR) Team Sky +55 19. Taylor Phinney ( USA) Team EF Education First – + 56 Drapac p/ b Cannondale 20. Adam Yates ( GBR) Mitchelton – Scott +1:00

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Quick guide

Stage Three result

1. BMC Racing Team ( USA) 38:46 2. Team Sky ( GBR) Team Sky +4 3. Quick-Step Floor ( BEL) Quick-Step Floors + 7 4. Mitchelton – Scott ( AUS) Mitchelton – Scott + 9 5. Team Sunweb ( GER) Team Sunweb + 11 6. Team EF Education First +35 Drapac p/ b Cannondale( USA) Drapac p/ b Cannondale 7. BORA – hansgrohe ( GER) BORA – hansgrohe + 50 8. Astana Pro Team ( KAZ) Astana Pro Team + 51 9. Team Katusha – Alpecin Team Katusha – Alpecin +52( SUI) 10. Movistar Team ( ESP) Movistar Team + 53 11. Bahrain – Merida ( BRN) Bahrain – Merida + 1:06 12. AG2R La Mondiale ( FRA) AG2R La Mondiale +1:15 13. Team LottoNL – Jumbo( NED) Team LottoNL – Jumbo “ 14. Trek – Segafredo ( USA) Trek – Segafredo + 1:16 15. UAE Team Emirates ( UAE) UAE Team Emirates + 1:38 16. Groupama – FDJ ( FRA) Groupama – FDJ + 1:42 17. Team Fortuneo – Samsic Team Fortuneo – Samsic +1:46( FRA) 18. Direct Energie ( FRA) Direct Energie + 1:51 19. Lotto – Soudal ( BEL) Lotto – Soudal + 1:52 20. Team Dimension Data ( RSA) Team Dimension Data ”

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