Tour de France: Froome still feeling chirpy as Gerrans grabs Yellow after time trial
Chris Froome stood cheerily beside Sky's bus in the sunshine and pondered whether the magnificent, searing parade of his team's cyclists along the Promenade des Anglais really did mean Nice belonged to the English here on the Cote d'Azur.
"Seeing that the Aussies have come through with the quicker times and have the yellow jersey, we can't say that," laughed the Tour favourite. "But, we're happy."
Australia's Orica GreenEdge team produced the fastest ever team time trial in the history of Grand Tours to put their 33-year-old sprinter Simon Gerrans in yellow.
The Saxo-Tinkoff team of Nicolas Roche finished fourth to leave the Dubliner ninth overall, nine seconds off the race leader.
Daniel Martin's Garmin-Sharp team wound up sixth yesterday, as Martin climbed to 19th place, 20 seonds behind Gerrans.
Sky were delighted with their first day on the French mainland after finishing third, gaining a few precious seconds on Froome's main general classification rivals and not having to worry yet about the burden of shouldering the Yellow Jersey.
Once again, they ended up saluting Geraint Thomas. With his cracked hip, he was not expected to contribute to the nine-man effort, where riders take turns powering off the front.
Yet not only did he contribute to the tight formation, Froome reckoned he also "put in some massive turns" at the front to ensure they finished just three seconds behind Orica GreenEdge. It meant a second dream day for Gerrans, following his stage win in Calvi on Monday.
Yet Sky were happy not to win Yellow themselves because of the responsibilities which go with it.
There was the added bonus of time being chipped out of his rivals, including six seconds from Alberto Contador, 17 seconds out of Alejandro Valverde, 23 seconds from Cadel Evans and 25 seconds from Joaquim Rodriguez.
Froome smiled: "We've taken note of that advantage over Contador."
Mark Cavendish is improving daily after a bout of bronchitis last week and was praised by his Omega Pharma-Quick Step manager Rolf Aldag for overcoming his Corsican disappointments and helping his team finish runners-up, cruelly just one second adrift.
His mood may be improved if he can open his account for the Tour on the 219km trek from Cagnes sur Mer. He needs to start firing or green dreams will quickly evaporate. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Tour de France, Live, Eurosport, 12.45/ITV4, 2.0