Tour de France 2013: Froome power play masks Sky's patchy day

Bakelants takes yellow jersey as British rider shows his strength while team-mates struggle

Ajaccio

Chris Froome chose the appropriately nautical setting of the coastal town of Ajaccio to fire an impressive first warning shot across his rivals' bows in the second stage of the Tour de France yesterday.

An acceleration by the 28-year-old Briton saw him briefly go clear on a short, punchy climb near the finish. The Team Sky rider's late attack, with around 12 kilometres to go, was always unlikely to have paid off, and after a fast, sweeping descent the Briton was soon caught again by the main pack. But even if any potential time gain by Froome would have been minimal with so little distance left to the finish, that was all but irrelevant.

The subliminal message from Froome was intimidation, pure and simple – if he can be so strong on a short, apparently irrelevant climb, how much more easily could he drop his rivals when the big ascents start with Saturday's first mountain stage in the Pyrenees?

"It's always good to keep people on their toes," Froome said, "The main objective for us was to stay out of trouble today, stay at the front, and not lose any time to the main contenders," he said.

"I knew the descent was tricky and dangerous. I was on the front with Richie [Porte] and I thought it might be a good time to push on a little bit, get ahead and take the descent at my own pace and stay out of trouble."

A break of six attacked after Froome was caught and Belgium's Jan Bakelants sheered away with two kilometres to go to cross the line first, despite the chasing peloton snapping at his heels.

The Briton's statement of intent helped overshadow what had been a worrying day for his Sky team-mates, with four dropped on the gruelling mid-stage climbs of central Corsica that saw sprinters like Saturday's winner Marcel Kittel and Britain's Mark Cavendish go out the back and lose over 17 minutes. Two of the Sky riders in difficulties, Britain's Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard, were caught up and injured in crashes on Saturday, but Belarus climber Kanstantsin Sivtsov and Spanish all-rounder David Lopez's failure to stay in the front group was more unexpected and potentially more worrying.

However, in a year where the traditional opening prologue – where the contenders race flat out in a bid to score psychological points off each other – has been lacking, Froome's attack both took the focus a little off his team-mates and allowed him to confirm his status as favourite for the remaining three weeks.

Whether all of his squad are in equally top condition should become clear in tomorrow's team time trial in Nice.

While Froome's main objectives lay further up the road, Bakelants can already say mission accomplished about his 2013 Tour, after he claimed both the stage win and the race lead yesterday.

A winner of the Tour de L'Avenir – the race which acts as a showcase for up-and-coming professionals – back in 2008, the Belgian's career has been a long series of near-misses that have left him bereft of victories for nearly six years. But his gutsy attack late on, when the others in the breakaway group of six briefly hesitated, finally gave him a much-needed victory.

"I have had a lot of bad luck, two operations in the last year alone, breaking my knee and elbow in one big race last year, crashes and falls close to the finish and wrecking other chances. My team only gave me a Tour start right at the last minute. But today I hit the jackpot," the RadioShack pro said.

"I hadn't really decided to get in the break but it worked and I still wasn't going at 100 percent," Bakelants added. "Then when they slowed a little I thought 'go for it, today could be the nicest day of your life'."

Lying second, just one second behind Bakelants overall, Britain's David Millar remains very much in the frame for the coveted yellow jersey.

The difficult, constantly undulating terrain of today's final stage through Corsica could well be perfect for the Scot – who was fourth in Saturday's convoluted sprint and in the thick of the action yesterday – to spring an ambush.

Or, perhaps, Froome will dazzle his rivals again.

Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried