BMC take team time trial, Froome back in contention

Tour de France

World champion Peter Sagan won a sprint finish to claim the second stage of the Tour de France and the race's overall lead on Sunday, while Chris Froome had a calmer ride after his tumble in the first leg.

Porte, who lost 51 seconds in the opening stage after being delayed behind a pile-up, helped his team edge out Team Sky by four seconds after they completed the 35.5 kilometre circuit around Cholet in 38 minutes 46 seconds.

Attention then turned to their rivals, with the biggest early losers including Movistar - who lost 53 seconds to BMC Racing and 49 to Team Sky, virtually cancelling out the time lost by Richie Porte and Chris Froome after the crashes that marred the stage one finale.

Movistar could only manage 10th place on the day, 50 seconds off Team Sky's pace, which means Froome is nearly back on level terms with Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde, while Nairo Quintana dropped even further back after his opening day woes.

Despite the setback, Quick-Step were able to regroup and only lost a further three seconds on BMC heading through the second checkpoint and finished a total of seven behind them in third place.

But Sky will be happy to see many of Froome's rivals lose significant time.

Van Avermaet earned the yellow jersey by leading BMC over the line, just ahead of American teammate Tejay van Garderen, who moved up to second overall with the same time as Van Avermaet.

"It was an unbelievable day and a really hard test for us", said Froome after the race.

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Peter Sagan, in the yellow jersey, suffered on the road and lost the wheels of his Bora-hansgrohe team-mates, meaning Van Avermaet now leads overall.

"There's a photo of the team on the podium with Greg in yellow and I think it's one I will cherish for a long time".

"Obviously the (Tour) didn't start too well with the crash on stage one but that's bike racing". It would have been nice not to have thrown 51 seconds away on the first day.

They finished in a winning time of 38min 46sec, giving the team a necessary boost, with reports suggesting they may be forced to fold at the end of the year if they can not attract extra sponsorship.

Among the top contenders, last year's runner-up Rigoberto Uran of Colombia is 10th, 35 seconds behind.

"I'm only some 20 seconds behind Froome so it's not that much".

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.

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