February 21, 2019

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

12 July 2018, 01:28 | Anna Jefferson

Peter Sagan is stoked to ride disc brakes at the 2018 Tour de France

Peter Sagan is stoked to ride disc brakes at the 2018 Tour de France

Australian green jersey contender Michael Matthews of Sunweb sits in ninth spot, 11 seconds behind Van Avermaet.

"We knew that Team Sky would be the team to beat and we also knew that it would be close".

Quick-Step Floors nicked third place in a time of 38:53, while Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team were a further two seconds behind before some much larger time gaps further down the order.

Stage victor Slovakia's Peter Sagan, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the podium after the second stage of the Tour de France.

Boulder's Taylor Phinney, on the other hand, finished 19 in the stage, just a second behind Froome.

Van Avermaet, a Belgian who excels at single-day classics, isn't a threat for the overall title but he could keep the lead through the cobblestoned Stage 9 ending in Roubaix.

Froome was left 55 seconds behind in the overall standings with another week of nervy rolling stages before hitting the Alps.

"I'm happy to be here", Froome noted.

"We rode a decent time trial and even if we still lost a lot of time I'm relieved", said Bardet. "You have to step up and deliver on the day and that's not an easy thing to do on a Tour de France team time trial stage". "That's the nature of the game".

Froome is aiming to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the only riders to win the Tour five times.

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

The Bury rider, who like Froome lost time thanks to a crash on the opening stage, quickly made his way back to the pack but with his left shoulder scuffed up.

Squad leaders traded turns on the front of the team "trains", with the ability to constantly maintain a fast pace the decisive factor over a challenging - if not highly technical - route featuring a few minor hills.

The team completed the course in an average speed of 54.9km per hour to claim their second Tour de France team time trial victory.

Froome put in an imperial performance on Monday showing the kind of power in the saddle that has led him to four previous Tour de France victories where he dominates the time trials and defends his lead in the mountains.

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 win the stage with a team like we have here, and especially with the passing of Andy Rihs, is special", Porte said. "It just shows that we are here, too, and let's get it on".

And though Sky missed out on victory - and a chance to put Geraint Thomas in the yellow jersey - Froome was able to eradicate the deficit to numerous other contenders.

"It was a goal to get yellow in the first week", said van Avermaet.

Tonight's fourth stage is a flat, 195km stage in Brittany between La Baule and Sarzeau that is expected to finish in a bunch sprint.

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