Wednesday 7 December 2016

Chris Froome stays in yellow at Tour de France after team time trial

Matt McGeehan

Published 12/07/2015 | 16:37

Britain's Chris Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides in the pack during the eighth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 181.5 kilometers (112.8 miles) with start in Rennes and finish in Mur-de-Bretagne
Britain's Chris Froome, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides in the pack during the eighth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 181.5 kilometers (112.8 miles) with start in Rennes and finish in Mur-de-Bretagne

Chris Froome held on to the Tour de France race leader's yellow jersey as Team Sky were beaten by one second on the ninth stage team time-trial from Vannes to Plumelec.

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Froome began the day with a lead of 11 seconds over Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan and 13secs over Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing.

The 2013 champion was influential in Team Sky finishing in 32 minutes 16 seconds, but Tejay van Garderen's BMC Racing squad won by the most slender of margins.

The 28-kilometre route was technical, twisting and finished with a 1.7km ascent to the finish, where time gaps were expected to open up.

Times were given on the fifth rider of the team, meaning unity was important and Team Sky stuck together well until the road ramped up in the final 500m and that is where the stage was lost for the British squad.

The battle for the maillot jaune will begin in earnest on Tuesday in the Pyrenees, following Monday's first rest day and transfer to Pau.

Van Garderen now trails Froome by 12 seconds, but Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) all conceded further time to the Team Sky man on Sunday.

Contador began the day 36 seconds behind Froome, defending champion Nibali was 1:48 adrift and Quintana was 1:56 behind.

Froome now leads Contador by 1:03, Quintana by 1:59 and Nibali by 2:22, with the latter the major loser for a second successive day.

The teams started in descending order of the teams classification, with the exception of Team Sky, which was promoted to final starter due to Froome's place in the maillot jaune.

Froome was confident in his squad on Saturday, having travelled to assess the course in the days ahead of the Tour.

Nibali's Astana team was the first of the major players to roll down the ramp, but it was far from a coherent performance by the Kazakh squad.

Starting with nine riders, the group fractured swiftly and Nibali had only four team-mates for company up the concluding ascent.

Astana rolled over the line in 32:50, setting a standard which many expected to be beaten.

Briton Alex Dowsett was a key component to the Movistar squad, but once his turn was done, the group unravelled, yet still Quintana finished 31secs quicker than Nibali in 32:19.

Froome wore a custom fit yellow skinsuit as he rolled down the start ramp.

At the first time check, Team Sky and BMC Racing were equal fastest, going through 10km in 10:54, 7secs faster than any other team.

Froome, the Olympic time-trial bronze medallist behind Sir Bradley Wiggins, was taking plenty of turns on the front to drag Team Sky on and to see the squad pass by the 20.5km time check fastest, one second quicker than BMC Racing.

Up ahead Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team missed the chance to send Sagan into the maillot jaune, finishing in 32:43, 24secs behind Movistar.

BMC Racing finished in 32:15, to take the lead from Movistar with Team Sky the only squad left on the course.

Froome had five team-mates for company up the finishing ascent but the pace was too much for Nicolas Roche in particular as Team Sky missed out on the stage win.

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