Monday, 23 July, 2018

Tour de France director calls for 'serenity' with Froome

Peter Sagan is happy to be back at the Tour after being kicked out early in 2017 Peter Sagan is happy to be back at the Tour after being kicked out early in 2017
Cassandra Castillo | 12 July, 2018, 04:15

Stage victor Slovakia's Peter Sagan, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the podium after the second stage of the Tour de France.

The eight Sky riders will race the 35.5 kilometres (22 miles) of Monday's team time-trial alone, as each group embarks at two minute intervals.

Van Avermaet, a Belgian who excels at single-day classics and won the Rio Olympic road race, isn't a threat for the overall title but he could keep the lead through the cobblestoned Stage 9 ending in Roubaix.

The defending champion had lost 51secs to some of his main rivals following a crash in the opening stage, but the collective effort against the clock around Cholet put him back in contention.

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.

"It's amusing because at the end of the day it's just another bike race".

"You have to focus, we are aiming at getting ideal execution", he said.

"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.

Porte's BMC team had been expected to make up for their disappointing first day when their Australian leader fell.

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"In the last two kilometres I said "go" because I had good legs".

"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".

BMC Racing were four seconds faster than Team Sky over the 35.5km course, with Mitchelton-Scott another five seconds back, as Chris Froome and Adam Yates also cancelled their early deficit after their crashes on stage one.

The race lacks the kind of long, flat individual time trial where four-time victor Froome often pulverises his opponents, programming instead a medium size time-trial in the mountains where a string of climbers who would usually lose time to Froome may actually beat him.

Romain Bardet's AG2R La Mondiale were 12th, 75 seconds down, while Dan Martin's UAE Team Emirates team were down in 15th, 1:39 off the pace after key man Oliviero Troia suffered an early puncture.

The pressure has unquestionably risen on Froome and Team Sky in spite of anti-doping authorities ending their investigation into this salbutamol levels, but he is adamant that he is able to put the pressure to the side and focus on the task at hand. "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".

"Fernando won yesterday and now I'm the one with the yellow jersey", it's been exciting. "It was all about trying to win the stage. It just shows that we are here, too, and let's get it on". We've been close in the past in Tour team time trials.

"We're happy, we had the yellow and that's part of history". In the last week, they have been drilling their team time trial as well as riding the cobbles of the Roubaix stage nine.

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