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.

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss