Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Chris Froome barged off road during Stage 1 - Tour de

Chris Froome Some fans greeted Chris Froome with boos before the start of the Tour
Shannon Reynolds | 10 July, 2018, 19:24

With another gruelling trip across the Alps and Pyrenees, who will wear the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysees?

"I'm only some 20 seconds behind Froome so it's not that much".

Defending champion Chris Froome, who lost 51 seconds to some of his main rivals after crashing on Saturday, had an uneventful day on the bike and finished safely in the peloton.

And they lost just one more second in the finale, leaving Phillipe Gilbert just 4 seconds short of yellow but BMC - and Van Avermaet - with a stage win and the race lead to show after an excellent performance.

The Slovak was thrown out after the fourth stage 12 months ago for sending Mark Cavendish crashing in a chaotic sprint, but he won it clean this time to beat Italian Sonny Colbrelli and France's Arnaud Demare into second and third places.

Rock bottom in the teams classification, MItchelton-Scott were the first team to take to the rolling 35.5kkm course, and they burst out of the blocks.

Among the big losers today were Nairo Quintana, whose Movistar team came home 53 seconds down on BMC Racing, Bahrain-Merida with 2014 Tour de France victor Vincenzo Nibali, 1 minute and 6 seconds down, and Romain Bardet's AG2R-La Mondiale, who came home 1 minute 15 seconds behind the day's victor.

The Briton crossed the line 51 seconds behind Tour debutant Gaviria, who won a bunch sprint after the 201km ride from Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile ahead of world champion Peter Sagan and German Marcel Kittel, second and third respectively.

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"We have a super strong team here, a lot of big guys, and they work pretty good on these flat courses. On a course like that, I don't push a lot of weight, so it's pretty hard to contribute but we did the best we could and the time is pretty good".

It will come as a relief that all except Quintana were able to gain back that time with the help of their teams.

Van Avermaet earned the yellow jersey by leading BMC over the line, just ahead of American teammate Tejay van Garderen, who moved up to second overall, with the same time as Van Avermaet.

Geraint Thomas of Sky was third overall, three seconds behind.

Froome's misfortune is a boost for France's Romain Bardet, seen along with Quintana as the four-time champion's main rival in this year's race, and also for Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d'Italia victor. As I've said from the start, the legs are good.

BMC's Richie Porte is level with Froome with their respective teams looking to do well on the team time trial. "I'm very happy with the other riders".

"I feel maybe even better (than last year)", Porte said. "Nothing is going to change, we just have to try to stay out of trouble and hope we get lucky".

Quick Step Floors had gone out onto the course with the opportunity of getting Fernando Gaviria back into the overall lead, and also had a chance of getting Philippe Gilbert into the yellow jersey should the Colombian be tailed off.

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