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"The first phase has gone better than any of us in the team could have imagined. I haven't lost anything and I even gained time during the first week. It puts us in a fantastic position."

Photo: A.S.O.










12.07.2015 @ 20:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

A superb collective performance saw Chris Froome retain Tour de France yellow as Team Sky claimed a close second place in the team time trial.


Stage nine played out over 28 nail-biting kilometres with Team Sky crossing the line just 0.62 seconds shy of victory in Plumelec, narrowly edged out by BMC Racing.


Despite just missing out on the stage win Froome was able maintain all of his 12-second advantage in the maillot jaune as the race heads into its first rest day.


After setting a strong early pace Team Sky matched BMC before forging ahead on the split times, taking a five-second advantage onto the final climb of the Cote de Cadoudal.


With five riders needed to clock the time the team stuck together, showing great teamwork with Geraint Thomas, Leopold König, Richie Porte and Nicolas Roche crossing the line alongside Froome in a time of 32 minutes and 16 seconds.


Combining to great effect through a corridor of noise and fans, Pete Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and finally Wout Poels all peeled off after burying themselves across the rolling course.



In the end just four seconds separated the top three teams, with Movistar and Nairo Quintana claiming third on the day to ensure the margins remained close. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) moved up to second overall, while Alberto Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo squad placed fourth on the stage, 27 seconds back on Sky. Astana and Vincenzo Nibali placed fifth as the Italian dropped a further 34 seconds to Froome.


“I think that everyone gave it their all but in the end BMC were point six of a second faster than us so congratulations to them,” Froome said. “We really can’t be disappointed by that, we were within a second of BMC. For everyone’s morale it would have been fantastic to get the stage win but importantly we’ve kept the yellow jersey, we’ve put more time into most of our rivals, we’ve got to be happy with that.


"We would have loved to win today's stage but we can't be disappointed by our performance. I expected something similar from Team Sky and BMC. With a difference of point six of a second, we can't know where we've lost and what have we missed.



“The guys gave it everything, everyone was really motivated for this team time trial. Of course we saw Nico Roche struggling a little bit up that final climb but I mean that’s the nature of the team time trial, he put so much in earlier on. We can’t put it down to him struggling on the last climb. That’s just a team effort and today BMC were better than us.



"The first phase has gone better than any of us in the team could have imagined. I haven't lost anything and I even gained time during the first week. It puts us in a fantastic position.


“I think this next phase of the race, obviously tomorrow we’ll sit down and discuss what we’re going to do thing going forward, but the pressure is certainly not on my shoulders to be making the race and to be trying to take time back from anyone at this stage it is for the other riders to try and get the jersey from me and for us to be potentially riding a more defensive race.



“Tejay, I’ve said from the beginning of the race is definitely someone to look out for, given that in the Dauphiné he was also right up there in the climbs so I think we can expect something similar. Of course, some other rivals like Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana they’ve both lost quite a substantial amount of time already so the pressure is definitely on them to be attacking once we go into the mountains.


"I didn't expect Vincenzo Nibali to have lost so much time by now. To be totally honest, before the Tour I thought he'd be the one of my rivals who would have gained the biggest time in the first week."


A strong TTT also propelled Thomas back up to eighth overall, 1:52 off his team-mate. Initially disappointed to have just missed out on the win, the Welshman told Eurosport: "We should have won that. Fair play, BMC did a good ride there. It's disappointing. There's a tough week now. A lot of people would say the Tour starts on Tuesday which is crazy in a way. But I think we can be happy, we put time into everyone else bar Tejay but we really wanted that."



Porte finished the stage strongly and echoed the thoughts of Thomas after a brutal test.


"There was an incredible crowd today," said the Tasmanian. "It was a brilliant atmosphere but it hurt to lose by under a second. It's a shame on that last climb we were sort of spread out. But we've taken time on most of our big rivals.


"That was a brutal team time trial. I can tell you that after five kilometres it was absolute agony. The Tour's a long way from over. We've got another two weeks. The mountains are coming up now but I think we've shown we're more than ready to have a good crack at it."



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