Tour de France 2013: Chris Froome establishes early advantage over rivals

Sky happy with third in time trial as team leader moves into seventh and Gerrans takes yellow

A solid third place for Team Sky in the team time trial in Nice saw Chris Froome move up to seventh overall, with the Briton ahead of all of the other main contenders for the Tour de France for the first time in the race, albeit by minimal margins.

Victory went for a second day running to Australian squad Orica-GreenEdge, with stage three winner Simon Gerrans moving into yellow, a position which Gerrans, a gifted all-rounder, is all but certain to hold until the race’s first incursion into the high Pyrenee mountains on Saturday.

Sky overall seemed satisfied that even if they were not able to repeat their team time trial win in May’s Giro d’Italia, with Geraint Thomas, one of their key specialists for the stage, riding with a fractured pelvis, they had nonetheless come very close to taking the victory. Thomas  himself had made the best of a difficult situation, gritting his teeth to stay with the long line of Sky team-mates as they blasted up the Promenade des Anglais seafront and even took a turn on the front before being dropped in the final kilometre.

Froome pointed out that not taking the lead yet left the pressure on the shoulders of other teams – and Orica-GreenEdge, with no overall contenders for Paris, will be determined to keep the race under control to extract the maximum publicity possible from their Tour lead at least until the mountains.

“I’m really happy,” Froome said afterwards, “finishing third, just three seconds down on Orica-GreenEdge, keeps us where we want to be and without the stress of taking the yellow jersey – even if it would have been a bit of a bonus to have.”

“If we’d had the lead right now, we’d have had to do extra work on the flat stages coming up which would have been a bit unnecessary for such a small advantage in terms of time.”

“We can stay without that pressure for a little bit longer, and until we get to the mountains where I feel the team are going to excel.”

He singled out Thomas for praise, saying: “He was the hero of the day, doing some pretty solid turns there and definitely helped us get that good finishing time.”

Others who could be pleased were Alberto Contador, whose Saxo-Tinkoff squad finished a bare six seconds behind Sky, a major improvement on the previous Tour team time trial in 2011 where they were 24 seconds slower than the Britons. Sky were not the only ones who were “carrying” injured riders – Saxo-Tinkoff team-mate Benjamin Noval dropped back early on yesterday’s stage when the Spaniard smashed into a camera held at arm’s length by a fan and all but dislocated a finger. If Saxo-Tinkoff nonetheless fared marginally better than expected, among those underperforming were 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans’s BMC squad, on paper one of the favourites, but who ended up a disappointing ninth, 26 seconds down.

Wednesday’s flat stage should see Britain’s Mark Cavendish, whose Omega Pharma-Quick Step team came within a whisker of claiming the victory yesterday, in the fray for the 24th Tour stage win of his career.

Unable to take part in Saturday’s sprint after he was blocked by a major crash on stage one that caused his team-mate Tony Martin to be badly injured – but battle on nonetheless – and suffering from bronchitis himself for the first three days, Cavendish says he is now back on track. And after the disappointment of missing out on his chance to clinch the yellow jersey in Corsica, today’s stage finish at Marseilles could see the Briton claim his first victory of the 2013 Tour.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future