BMC time-trial win puts Van Avermaet in yellow

Cavendish's jersey bears the rainbow stripes thanks to his 2011 world road championship title

Cavendish's jersey bears the rainbow stripes thanks to his 2011 world road championship title

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.

"It was really a hard sprint, " Sagan said.

With the Tour de France underway, Froome believes he is in good condition to face the challenge that awaits.

The Slovak cyclist has a six-second lead ahead of Gaviria and is another four seconds ahead of Colbrelli in the general classification.

Sagan edged Sonny Colbrelli in a reduced sprint finish at La Roche-sur-Yon after a late crash in the peloton. "It was climbing a little bit in a headwind and already the last five kilometers were up and down".

A year ago, Sagan was kicked out of the Tour after race organizers ruled he caused a crash that broke the shoulder blade of Mark Cavendish in a sprint finish to end Stage 4.

"Today, we just handled business", said Van Garderen, who has twice finished in the top five at the Tour but is riding this edition in a declared supporting role for Porte.

"We have to respect that he's allowed to race, and within a safe environment, and he's had all kinds of abuse at the moment and no athlete should have to go ride under that and have their safety questioned at the sport's biggest event".

It is a measure of just how much success Team Sky have enjoyed at recent Tours de France that when Geraint Thomas missed out on the yellow jersey yesterday by only three seconds he barely shrugged.

Accounting for time bonuses in the overall standings, Froome trails Gaviria by 1:01 in 91st position.

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.

On a short climb at the halfway point in the course, however, the Belgian team was forced to regroup as the pace forced riders - including Gaviria - off the back, costing the handful of seconds that might have put Gilbert in yellow.

For Porte, the stage win took on special significance as it marked a year since he crashed out of last year's Tour on the decent into Chambery on the ninth stage.

Overall, Froome is in 18th place, 55 seconds off the pace and still 44 behind 2017 Giro d'Italia victor Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, who with Team Sunweb only lost seven seconds to the Briton today.

BMC, which is searching for a new title sponsor, also won the previous team time trial on the Tour in 2015. And in what was expected to be a calm day for the favorites, two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana lost 1:10 when both of his tires were punctured.

After the first stage that hugged the Atlantic coast, the race rolled inland through green pastures, forest groves, and yellow wheat fields baked by the summer sun.

"It was a strong effort from everyone", said the 33-year-old. He was absorbed by the peloton with eight miles left. "I have my chances to win tomorrow too and also at the Roubaix", said Van Avermaet.

Ethiopia's Tsgabu Grmay became the first rider to abandon the race.

Astana climber Luis Leon Sanchez later called it quits after he fell and bloodied his left arm.

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