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Froome's surprise at early show

British rider Chris Froome (pictured) took the Tour de France leader's yellow jersey after finishing second behind Spanish veteran Joacquim Rodriguez in yesterday's crash-marred third stage, as a second straight day of chaos caused around 20 riders to fall and several to quit.

The 2013 Tour winner almost caught Rodriguez near the top of the day's final climb, but the Spaniard held on for his second career Tour stage win five years after his first. "I didn't expect to be in yellow this early on. Couldn't be a better feeling," said Sky rider Froome.

Dan Martin moved up to 20th place overall, 2' 06 behind Froome after finishing fourth. Team Sky's Nicolas Roche is 112th, 11'18 off his team-mate's pace, as Sam Bennett feel to dramatically to 148th, 14'17 behind.

Froome now leads German rider Tony Martin - who is not a threat for overall victory - by just one second and is 13 seconds ahead of American rider Tejay Van Garderen, who is shaping up as a dangerous outsider.

More importantly, Froome's touted main rivals are lagging. Froome is now 36 seconds clear of two-time champion Alberto Contador of Spain, 1:38 ahead of defending champion Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and 1:56 ahead of Nairo Quintana of Colombia, the Tour runner-up two years ago.

Froome took the race leader's jersey from Swiss veteran Fabian Cancellara, who was involved in the crash which happened with a little under 60 kilometres remaining, forcing the stage to be stopped altogether - for nearly 20 minutes.

Frenchman William Bonnet crashed and brought those directly behind him down. Cancellara was one of the last to crash. He managed to finish the stage in pain, dropping to 109th in the GC.