” 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.
” 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 .”