Sunday, 20 October, 2019

Tour de France: Chris Froome gains on rivals as jeering fades

This July 4 crash resulted in both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan exiting the Tour de France This July 4 crash resulted in both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan exiting the Tour de France
Shannon Reynolds | 12 July, 2018, 04:14

Belgium's Van Avermaet was part of the BMC group that clocked 38 minutes 46 seconds on the 35.5km route in Cholet.

"We'll try our best for the team, it'll be hard but you never know in cycling", said the yellow jersey wearer on his chances of holding on to it.

A year ago, Sagan was kicked out of the Tour after race organizers ruled he caused a crash that broke the shoulder blade of Mark Cavendish in a sprint finish to end Stage 4. "It wasn't ideal to throw 51 seconds away but we have taken some good time back on some of the other GC (general classification) guys today".

Van Avermaet's teammate Tejay van Garderen finished on the same time to take second place overall with Sky's Geraint Thomas third.

It was also a very satisfying day for Froome, the Kenyan-born Briton ignoring some booing at the start line and making up some of the valuable time he lost on Saturday's first stage. But as I say, that's bike racing.

Porte's BMC team had been expected to make up for their disappointing first day when their Australian leader fell.

Yates and Froome sit in 81st and 84th places respectively, 67 seconds off yellow but more concerned about the 51 second gap to the likes of Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Mikel Landa (Movistar).

"We rode out of our skin and super smooth and with the horsepower that we have did a great ride", the Irishman said.

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BMC's Richie Porte is level with Froome with their respective teams looking to do well on the upcoming team time trial.

A leaked dope test signalling too much salbutamol last September - but which anti-doping authorities WADA dismissed - has made Froome a target as he and Team Sky in their white team shirts progress along the 21-day course.

"Without the leak we wouldn't even know about it, but that's the nature of the sport now", the 2012 Tour victor said on Eurosport's The Bradley Wiggins Show.

"It puts us right back in the game. If they could just go as long as they could and if they didn't feel great then just commit anyway, and that's what they did".

Chavanel, who has said this will be his last Tour, soaked up applause from French fans on his solo run, and he even had time to raise his arms in celebration as he passed through the crowds that lined the road midway through the stage.

"To be honest I didn't even think about it (the yellow jersey), it was just about winning the stage". That would have been a nice bonus on top. We all want to be successful here.

Kiwi rider Patrick Bevin leads BMC Racing through the team time trial course on the Tour de France. "We were close but not quite quick enough".

His Etixx Quick-Step team-mates provided a flawless lead-out train and, despite the presence of sprinting royalty, Gaviria pulled away to become the first debutant to win the opening stage of the Tour in 14 years. "We had a clear plan and we're happy because we pulled it off".

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