Froome reaches France in yellow

Published: Tuesday 7th July 2015 by The News Editor

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The 102nd Tour de France crossed into its homeland on Tuesday with Chris Froome in the leader’s yellow jersey he hopes to win for a second time in Paris on July 26.

Froome’s show of strength after the chaos of a colossal crash saw the 2013 champion steal further valuable seconds from his rivals for overall glory on Monday’s third stage.

“It’s the perfect position to be in,” Froome said.

He may not keep the maillot jaune for long – and may indeed lose it on Tuesday’s 223.5-kilometre fourth stage from Seraing to Cambrai across the cobbles of northern France – but Froome’s advantage over his three big rivals is significant.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) trail by 36secs, 1min 38secs and 1:56, respectively, after Froome finished second to Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on Monday’s third stage which finished atop the 1.3km Mur de Huy.

Froome said: “I don’t know how much you can read into what happened, but it’s great to be in the yellow jersey.

“Hopefully that will elevate morale in the whole team and help us stay together as a unit and stay safe on the cobbles.”

Froome and Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford are all too aware of the fickle nature of the Tour, having seen the defence of his title end after three crashes in two days in 2014.

Brailsford said: “It’s nice to get your nose in front, (but) it’s a bit like scoring a goal in football and you’re really vulnerable for the five minutes afterwards.

“I’d say we’re pretty vulnerable now. That would be my message to this lot (Team Sky’s riders).”

Froome did not even see a cobble on 12 months’ ago and four riders abandoned during the 159.5-kilometres third stage from Antwerp after a crash which saw riders, including maillot jaune incumbent Fabian Cancellara (Trek), topple like dominoes.

Confusion followed as race director Christian Prudhomme first neutralised the race, then waved the riders on.

Next Prudhomme appeared through his sunroof once again to stop the race as the race medics were occupied treating the wounded.

Cancellara later announced his final Tour was over.

He wrote on Twitter: “Just left the hospital with a huge disappointment #TDF2015 is over broke some bones on my back again as in spring. #L3/L4right side”

Brailsford does not believe it has set a precedent.

He said: “It was a decision based on safety. I don’t think for one second you can go down the road of ‘well, what happens if there’s a crash tomorrow?’ It just doesn’t stack up.”

The pace was frenetic once the race resumed around 50km from the finish, with everyone jostling for position and Froome utilising his elbows to fend off rivals.

Froome was ideally placed at the foot of the Mur de Huy and made his move with 500m to go.

Contador and Rodriguez followed, before the latter surged and was shadowed by Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal).

Froome followed too, but not in time to overhaul Rodriguez, who celebrated victory, as the Briton enjoyed a second successive profitable day after exploiting splits in the bunch on Sunday.

Unaware he was required for the podium presentation and leader’s duties, Froome returned to the Team Sky bus before learning of his British record 15th day in the record.

He had previously held the joint record of 14 days with 2012 winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Published: Tuesday 7th July 2015 by The News Editor

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