Friday, 22 February, 2019

'Rapt' Richie Porte gets Tour campaign back on track

Mark Cavendish Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan will be sprinting for a yellow jersey in stage 1 of the Tour Mark Cavendish Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan will be sprinting for a yellow jersey in stage 1 of the Tour
Kristopher Love | 12 July, 2018, 13:29

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.

The second stage should provide a flawless platform for early leader Gaviria to throw down the challenge to Peter Sagan in the green jersey struggle.

Few could have predicted the wild final run into Fontenay on Saturday which left four-time champion Froome, who fell into a ditch, and other favorites Richie Porte and Adam Yates trailing stage victor Fernando Gaviria in the overall standings by 1 min and 1 sec. Without the leak we wouldn't even know about it, but that's the nature of sport now. "I have worn it one time already and it was an incredible feeling so, I am pretty happy to be in this position for a second time".

"The legs feel good and I'm optimistic about what is to come hopefully", said Froome.

With grass stains on his right shoulder and blood trickling down his right arm from a gash on his elbow, Froome got back up and crossed 51 seconds behind Fernando Gaviria, the Colombian who claimed the race's first yellow jersey with a commanding sprint victory.

Gaviria was immediately congratulated by Colombia's cycling-mad president Juan Manuel Santos, who visited the Tour de France past year and who sent his best wishes via Twitter.

Squad leaders traded turns on the front of the team "trains", with the ability to constantly maintain a fast pace the decisive factor over a challenging - if not highly technical - route featuring a few minor hills.

And with the incident coming inside the final three kilometres all times were neutralised, leaving Thomas only 15 seconds off yellow.

BMC also started early on, and leveraged a smooth performance out on the road into a superb time which overtook Team Sky at the finish.

Gaviria, 23, won four stages in last year's Giro d'Italia and is living up to his billing as the next big thing in sprinting.

Porte may be linked with a switch to the American Trek-Segafredo team next year, but the future of other riders and team staff is uncertain; and in the biggest race of the year, Monday's victory was the medicine they all collectively needed to reaffirm their overriding goal of reaching the finish as the team of the 2018 Tour victor. "It wasn't ideal to throw 51 seconds away but we have taken some good time back on some of the other GC (general classification) guys today". "There's more stress in these days because everybody is there, whereas in the mountains you've got the climbers ahead and it sorts itself out".

The other members of BMC are Patrick Bevin, Damiano Caruso, Simon Gerrans, Stefan Kung and Michael Schar.

"Today, we just handled business", said Van Garderen, who has twice finished in the top five at the Tour but is riding this edition in a declared supporting role for Porte. "It just shows that we are here, too, and let's get it on".

Their victory also helped Belgian team-mate Greg van Avermaet into the tour leaders yellow jersey.

Tonight's fourth stage is a flat, 195km stage in Brittany between La Baule and Sarzeau that is expected to finish in a bunch sprint.

The only individual time trial of the race comes in the penultimate stage, over a 31-kilometer route from Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle to Espelette in the Basque country.