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.

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
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

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game