Tour de France: Chris Froome gains on rivals as jeering fades

Cavendish's jersey bears the rainbow stripes thanks to his 2011 world road championship title

Cavendish's jersey bears the rainbow stripes thanks to his 2011 world road championship title

"If you had told me at the start that I would be only 40 seconds off Froome after the team time trial I would have been pretty happy".

Froome put in an imperial performance on Monday showing the kind of power in the saddle that has led him to four previous Tour de France victories where he dominates the time trials and defends his lead in the mountains.

Besides still having to make up most of the 51 seconds he lost in a Stage 1 crash, Chris Froome faces another challenge as he seeks a record-tying fifth Tour de France title - Richie Porte's BMC team.

"There was way too much wind for me", said the slightly-built Porte.

While Sky's top placed rider is Geraint Thomas three seconds off the lead, 2017 Giro victor Dumoulin is just 11 seconds down, but perhaps Bardet is the man with the most to smile about at this stage.

Overall, Froome is in 18th place, 55 seconds off the pace and still 44 behind 2017 Giro d'Italia victor Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, who with Team Sunweb only lost seven seconds to the Briton today. "We're on track but there's still so much to go through". "You have to step up and deliver on the day and that's not an easy thing to do on a Tour de France team time trial stage". But as I say, that's bike racing.

The Tour heads into the cycling hotbed of Brittany on Tuesday for Stage 4, a mostly flat 195-kilometer (121-mile) leg from La Baule to Sarzeau that starts and ends on the Atlantic coast.

Vincenzo Nibali's Bahrain-Merida squad were 11th on the day, giving up 62 seconds to Team Sky, while Romain Bardet's AG2R La Mondiale team finished 12th, 71 seconds back. "That's the nature of the game".

"We rode out of our skin and super smooth and with the horsepower that we have did a great ride", the Irishman said. "If they could just go as long as they could and if they didn't feel great then just commit anyway, and that's what they did".

"To be honest I didn't even think about it (the yellow jersey), it was just about winning the stage.

But even if you're on the course and you are taking time back, it's so technical and you have to nail every corner and every turn", he said.

Among the big losers today were Nairo Quintana, whose Movistar team came home 53 seconds down on BMC Racing, Bahrain-Merida with 2014 Tour de France victor Vincenzo Nibali, 1 minute and 6 seconds down, and Romain Bardet's AG2R-La Mondiale, who came home 1 minute 15 seconds behind the day's victor.

While Sky missed out, victory was a boon to Porte - a year to the day after he was hospitalised by the serious crash which ended his 2017 Tour - and the BMC team whose future remains uncertain as they seek a new title sponsor.

Overnight leader Fernando Gaviria came down in a mass high speed crash just 1.3km from the line, which Sagan and around 15 other riders avoided to set up a frantic finish.

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