Chris Froome was on Monday booed by a section of the public on the starting ramp, but otherwise enjoyed a great day in the Tour de France team time trial where Team Sky were edged by four seconds by winners BMC Racing Team.
Belgian team Quick-Step Floors came third at seven seconds, but because Fernando Gaviria was dropped along the route, he failed to reclaim the race leader’s yellow jersey, which was instead claimed by BMC’s Olympic road race champion Greg van Avermaet.
“It’s a great feeling and very good for the team. I have my chances to win tomorrow too, and also at the Roubaix,” Van Avermaet said.
It was also a very satisfying day for Froome, as the Kenyan-born Briton ignored some booing at the start line and made up some of the valuable time that he lost on Saturday’s first stage.
Defending champion Froome lost four seconds to Richie Porte, but took five seconds off British rival Adam Yates, eight seconds off world champion Tom Dumoulin of Sunweb, 50 seconds off Colombia’s Nairo Quintana and was a less-than-expected 1 minute, 11 seconds quicker than French hope Romain Bardet.
While Sky’s top-placed rider is Geraint Thomas, at three seconds off the lead, last year’s Giro winner Dumoulin is just 11 seconds down, but perhaps Bardet is the man with the most to smile about at this stage.
“For God’s sake don’t sell this as a two-horse race because it’s not, not this year,” a source close to Bardet said.
“But boy we are so happy to get here without having had two minutes stuck into us by Froome,” he said of Bardet’s 20 second deficit on the champion.
Bardet had cut a happy figure on the line after his AG2R team, built for the mountains, came in 12th — 1 minute, 15 seconds behind BMC.
Bardet waited at the finish line to greet and hug each one of the teammates that he had dropped in a mad final push for the line.
“Our team is our strength,” Bardet said.
Porte’s BMC had been expected to make up for their disappointing first day when their Australian leader fell.
“There was too much wind for me,” the slightly built Porte said.
“So taking four seconds off Chris [Froome of Sky] is good and it looks like a minute off Romain Bardet at least,” the BMC leader said. “We were favorites and it was good to deliver.”
“I still regret throwing away those 51 seconds on the first day, but there’s a long way to go to Paris,” he added.
There were no surprises for Movistar’s Quintana, who lost another chunk of time to Froome, to whom he has twice come second on the Tour.
“It’s about what I expected. We thought we’d lose a bit to Froome and we lost a bit to Froome,” Quintana said.
Froome on Monday put in an imperial performance, showing the kind of power in the saddle that has led him to four previous Tour de France victories where he dominates the time trials and defends his lead in the mountains.
“It was a huge challenge for the team. It’s been incredible for us,” said the 33-year-old Briton, who was jeered when his name was announced on the starting ramp.
“Our aim was to take the maximum time out of all our rivals,” he said. “But believe me, this was not an easy day.”
His team principal, Dave Brailsford, was also looking cheerful and relaxed.
“In this kind of situation you have to focus on the process and not the result. Make sure all the guys are right, forget the race and live in the moment,” he said of how they have tackled the challenge.
Asked if the Froome booing was dying down, he said yes.
“It looks like people have just come out for a fun day,” he said. “Thankfully, because there are families here.”
As they celebrated Naomi Osaka’s victory in the final of the US Open in New York City’s Flushing Meadows on Saturday, Tokyoites were eager to embrace their heroines’ stand against racial injustice. Osaka, who won her third Grand Slam title with a victory over Victoria Azarenka, has used her platform to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, wearing a mask bearing the name of a different African American before each of her seven matches in the championship. She had donned masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile. On Saturday, she walked
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
THOROUGH THRASHING: Hualien City beat Taichung Blue Whale 2-1, ending their three-year winning streak with one round of matches left and eight points to spare Hualien City on Saturday clinched this year’s Taiwan Mulan Football League title with one game to spare, by beating Taichung Blue Whale 2-1 at Fu Jen Catholic University in New Taipei City. Hualien City have scored 38 points this season. Blue Whale are second on the scoreboard with 30 points, while Taipei Bravo are third with 23 points. One final round of matches is to be played on Saturday. It is the fourth league trophy for Hualien City, and ends Blue Whale’s three-year winning streak. Hualien had won the title from 2014 to 2016. Both teams defended well, leaving few chances in front
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7