Sagan avoids pile-up to clinch second stage

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

By finishing second in the 35.5km team time-trial around Cholet, Team Sky did that with typical efficiency.

The red-and-white checkered cloths were created following Theodore Botrel's song first performed in April 1900, "Le mouchoir rouge de Cholet".

Defending champion Chris Froome made up for some lost time at the Tour de France on Monday although Team Sky narrowly missed out on victory in the third stage, a 35.5-km team time trial won by American outfit BMC Racing.

He told ITV4: "We did an awesome job, the boys were wonderful and previous year at the team time trial at the Worlds no one suited up as the strongest and there was not much difference between everyone again today and that's exactly what you want". It would have been nice not to have lost it in the first place.

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

With Froome, Yates and BMC's Richie Porte three of the four big losers among the general classification riders on Saturday, this stage did much to level the playing field.

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. But as I say, that's bike racing.

"It's reassuring to take back some time".

Sky were second off the start ramp and set off to a mixed reception one week after the UCI announced it had closed its anti-doping investigation into Froome. I think there will be a lot more time lost throughout the GC group before we hit the mountains.

Midway around the course first Luke Rowe and then Wout Poels dropped off the back of their train, and it perhaps proved key as BMC carried more speed through the second half of the course. Without the leak we wouldn't even know about it, but that's the nature of sport now.

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

A year after leaving the Tour de France in disgrace, Peter Sagan earned the race's yellow jersey on Sunday after doing what he does best: Powering past the competition to reach the finish line. "It was all about trying to win the stage". We just wanted to get that stage. "We were close but not quite quick enough".

Mark Cavendish's hopes of a 31st career Tour stage win were also scuppered by the incident but the Dimension Data rider stayed upright.

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. Once the three were away, the main pack closed ranks to ensure that no other riders could join the break.

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