Tour de France 2018: stage three

Peter Sagan is happy to be back at the Tour after being kicked out early in 2017

And though Van Avermaet's BMC squad pipped Sky to victory by four seconds - denying Thomas yellow by just three seconds - Sky did enough to put four-time victor Froome firmly back in the general classification mix.

The roadside spectators who booed Chris Froome at the Tour de France presentation and those who cheered at the stage 1 finish line when he fell will have the flawless opportunity to target the champion on Monday's team time-trial.

Team Sky, another unusual early starter, were booed by roadside spectators throughout their effort but posted nearly identical times through the first two time checks - as did BMC Racing, who also found themselves in an unfamiliar early start time.

The Solvakian's Bora Hansgrohe team finished in seventh spot, 50 seconds down on the stage winners, but he will wear the green jersey on stage four.

On a sunny Saturday early in the school holidays, enormous crowds of fans packed the seaside towns along the Atlantic coast in a highly festive atmosphere where any expected fall out from the Froome booing on Thursday was muted, with AFP seeing just two signs along the roadside targeting him with messages of "Froome go home" and "Froome the doper". Rigoberto Uran's EF Education First-Drapac team gave up 35 seconds in fifth, Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana's Movistar 54 seconds in 10th, and Vincenzo Nibali's Bahrain-Merida team 66 seconds in 11th. You can never tell who is going to be on a good day or not, but all in all it worked out well for us. It would have been nice not to have lost it in the first place.

"It was getting quite chaotic with the sprint teams but that's bike racing". Obviously this is an incredibly important race, but it's you guys who put the pressure on us!

"Our aim was to take the maximum time out of all our rivals", he insisted.

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"This is one stage where you have to push to the limit more than ever, but if you misgauge your effort you pay for it massively".

"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". In the intermediate sprint, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) took a second and increased his advantage in the GC fight.

Chris Froome's bid for a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title got off to a shaky start Saturday after a dramatic crash left him trailing first stage victor Fernando Gaviria by over one minute.

A leaked dope test signalling too much salbutamol last September - but which anti-doping authorities WADA dismissed - has made Froome a target as he and Team Sky in their white team shirts progress along the 21-day course.

Richie Porte's team were six seconds quicker than Team Sky at the second split and continued to press on, putting Van Avermaet in yellow for the second time in his career.

"To be honest I didn't even think about it (the yellow jersey), it was just about winning the stage". "It was all about trying to win the stage". We've been close in the past in Tour team time trials.

Britain's Mark Cavendish, who has 30 stage wins, said it was the hardest Tour de France route he'd ever seen and doubted he'd make it to the mountains. "We had a clear plan and we're happy because we pulled it off". The Kenyan-born British rider also crashed on the opening day of the Giro d'Italia in May, while warming up for the Stage 1 time trial.

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