Interestingly enough, on ITV’s coverage of the Tour, David Millar has just been bigging up their chances of winning today’s time trial. They’ve just passed the first checkpoint three seconds slower than BMC, so are very much in the mix. If they do win today’s stage, Fernando Gaviria would find himself in yellow.
Dimension Data finish: Mark Cavendish leads his team across line, shaking his head in frustration as he does so. Their fourth rider stops the clock at 40min 39sec, a total of 1min 52sec off the pace set by clubhouse leaders BMC.
Bora-Hansgrohe set off: Peter Sagan’s team hit the road with the Slovak a vision in yellow. THey’re a decent time tiralling side, but nothing special. They’ll have to do exceptionally well to keep Sagan in yellow today. As things stand, he’ll lose it to BMC’s Greg van Avermaet.
Cofidis Solutions Credits finish: Their time of 42min 09sec is significantly worse than any of their rivals and should secure them last place in today’s stage.
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo finish. At 40min 02sec, it’s a disappointing effort. Just two teams are left to start their respective races against the clock: Quick-Step Floors and Bora-Hansgrohe. With eight teams out on the road and two to start, we should know the outcome of today’s stage in approximate 45 minutes.
Astana roll down the ramp: The national team of Kazakhstan roll down the ramp, without really having a GC rider to call their own. They start with seven riders after the abandonment of Luis Leon Sanchez yesterday. He came off his bike 40 kilometres from the end of yesterday’s stage and tried to continue, but was unable to ride his bike. After being taken to hospital for x-rays, he was found to have a fracture in his elbow and in four of his left ribs. Ouch.
Adam Yates speaks: “We did a good time,” the Mitchelton Scott rider tells ITV. “|We’ve got a super strong team here and we work pretty good on these fast courses.”
AG2R La Mondiale finish: Romain Bardet’s team clock in at 40min 01sec, well over a minute off the pace. In other news, here’s Peter Sagan’s father getting slightly excited as he watched his son win yesterday’s second stage.
The cameras cut to Cofidis: They’re 11 minutes into their spin and the flags on the side of the road suggest they’re being buffeted by incredibly strong crosswinds.
Team Sunweb set sail: Meanwhile in the clubhouse, BMC have the lead. As things stand, Greg van Avermaet is the virtual Maillot Jaune.
BMC pass the second checkpoint: They have a six second advantage over Team Sky with nine kilometres to go.
BMC are going well: With nine kilometres to go, Richie Porte and his associates have a five second advantage over Sky at the moment.
Not a good day for Movistar: With just four riders left with him out on the road, Nairo Quintana finishes 49 seconds behind Team Sky. With the losses he’s incurred already, Nairo Quintan’s Tour has “already been holed beneath the waterline”, according to TV’s Ned Boulting.
An email: “I’m sympathetic to your correspondent Mr Hindle’s perspective,” writes Will de Quetteville. “Brailsford is very much in danger of succumbing to the belief that he is bigger than Team Sky and its riders. The nature of his comment about Lappartient is that of a rich snob and, at the very least, antagonising the head of the UCI is hardly likely to prove useful to Froome et al going forward. Notwithstanding the fact that Brailsford’s own performance in front of the select committee demonstrated, at best, a suburban grasp of politics.”
Team Sky take the lead: Chris Froome and chums finish in a time of 38min 50sec, which looks likely to take some beating. There are 20 other teams yet to finish, of course, but if Sky do hold on, then Geraint Thomas will start tomorrow’s stage in the yellow jersey.
Sky approach the finish: Correction: that Mitchelton-Scott time (now corrected) should have read 38min 55sec. With six riders still together, Team Sky have a little over a kilometre to go and look good to overtake the Australian pace-setters. Chris Froome does a long pull on the front, before making way for Egan Bernal.
Mitchelton-Scott approach the finish. They’re down to five riders and Adam Yates leads them over the line. They finish in a time of 38min 55sec.
Nine teams still to start: BMC Racing are out on the road and past the 13km mark in the same time (14min 13sec) as Mitchelton-Scott and Sky.
Team Sky pass the second checkpoint: To a mixture of applause and clearly audible booing from the roadside, Team Sky stop the clock in a time 29min 03sec, four seconds quicker than Mitchelton-Scott.
Team Sky down to six riders: Sky have dropped Luke Rowe and Wout POwels and are down to six men out on the road. It’s difficult to know whether this is all part of their plan or they’re having a bad day in the office. We’ll find out soon enough as they’re approaching the second checkpoint at 26.5 kilometres. Mitchelton-Scott just passed it in a time of 29min 06sec.
Checkpoint No1: Movistar pass the 13km mark two seconds behind the leaders Mitchelton-Scott. The Australian team and Sky have both dropped one rider each out on the road and are down to seven men each.
An email from David Hindle: “Some brass neck from Sir Dave there?” he suggests, referring to the Sky team leader’s attack on the UCI president David Lappartient. “I guess that’s how you get to the top in sport. That and ‘marginal gains’, of course. Do you think we’ll move on to Sir Dave harassing and bullying any critics? Oh. Hang on. It looks like that’s already started. Last time this happened it didn’t end well.”
The consensus among Sir Dave’s many vocal critics on social media seems to be that he has been extremely arrogant here. No doubt those who are always eager to fight his and Team Sky’s corner will have a response for our correspondent Mr Hindle, who – if my previous experiences manning the Tour de France are anything to go by – might be well advised to don his tin hat.
Mitchelton-Scott pass the first checkpoint. The Aussie outfit clock in at 14min 13sec at the 13-kilometre mark. Sky pass it less than a second down.
Groupama-FDJ are away: Sponsored by the French lottery, this team won’t be too concerned about getting a good time today as they don’t have a GC rider among their ranks. Arnaud Demare is their main man. The 26-year-old from Beauvais has won stages in Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse this season and recorded third place finishes in Milan-San Remo and Gent-Wevelgem.
Movistar are next down the ramp: Nairo Quintana and his team-mates get their pedals turning. The Colombian had a disastrous start to the Tour, crashing near the end of the opening stage and losing over a minute on his rivals. There were questions over who is actually leading Movistar ahead of this race and if Quintana fails to deliver then Mikel Landa or Alejandro Valverde may take on what Rio Ferdinand so memorably called “the mantelpiece”.
Team Sky set off. They have never won a TTT at the Tour de France, but have their eyes on the yellow jersey today. After Chris Froome lost 51 seconds after a crash in the opening stage,. they’re hoping to get Geraint Thomas into the race leader’s jersey.
Mitchelton-Scott hit the road: Adam Yates is their team leader and has crashed twice already in this Tour and will be hoping for a change of luck today. There are eight riders on each team and the clock stops when the fourth man crosses the finish line. We have checkpoints at Saint-Andre at the 13km mark and Cote de la Seguiniere at the 26.5km.
Less than 10 minutes to go: On the UK TV coverage, we’re just a Sun Life Guaranteed Over 50s Plan advert away from the beginning of today’s time trial. The Australian Mitchelton-Scott team will be first down the ramp and their riders are primed and ready to go.
Peter Sagan on yesterday’s win: “I have to say a big thanks to my team-mates,” said the Slovak stage winner. “They rode at the front for the last 30km. In the end, I expected something easier but it was a very tough course, with a lot of ups and downs.
“I believed it was better to wait as long as possible to launch my sprint. Démare started with Degenkolb. I could overtake them. I was very lucky that Colbrelli didn’t jump fast enough to pass me. I’m very happy to get the yellow jersey too. To wear it for one day or more, it’s always special. We’ll try to keep it after the team time trial. Everything is possible.”
Two withdrawals so far: Two riders left the Tour during stage two yesterday, with Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez abandoning after a heavy fall at a traffic island and Trek-Segafredo’s Tsgabu Grmay quitting due to illness. Grmay had been suffering from abdominal pain in the build-up to the race and said yesterday that they got worse and “it was not possible to go on”.
How to ride a team time trial: The Global Cycling Network have no shortage of helpful and informative videos on their YouTube channel. Here, they went behind the scenes at BMC Racing during last year’s Vuelta a Espana to find out the secrets of a good team time trial.
Brailsford makes headlines: Team Sky chief Dave Brailsford courted more controversy yesterday when he said UCI president David Lappartient had the mentality of “a local French mayor”.
In the build-up to this year’s Tour, Lappartient appeared to suggest that Chris Froome was only cleared of any wrongdoing by Wada and the UCI last week because of his own and Team Sky’s wealth. His comments did not go down well with Brailsford, as Jeremy Whittle explains.
Today’s start order
Mitchelton Scott are first out today and will be hoping for less of the bad luck that has dogged them over the past two days. Their team leader Adam Yates has crashed twice in the first two stages, while Luke Dudbridge and Daryl Impey both hit the deck yesterday. Their directeur sportif, Matt White, told journalists yesterday that all three riders would be fine for today.
1. Mitchelton-Scott (Aus) 14:10
2. Team Sky (GB) 14.15
3. Movistar Team (Esp) 14.20
4. Groupama-FDJ (Fra) 14.25
5. BMC Racing Team (USA) 14.30
6. EF Education First-Drapac (USA) 14.35
7. UAE Team Emirates (UAE) 14.40
8. Ag2r La Mondiale (Fra) 14.45
9. Fortuneo-Samsic (Fra) 14.50
10. Direct Energie (Fra) 14.55
11. Lotto-Soudal (Bel) 15.00
12. LottoNL-Jumbo (Ned) 15.05
13. Cofidis, Solutions Credits (Fra) 15.10
14. Team Sunweb (Ger) 15.15
15. Team Dimension Data (RSA) 15.20
16. Katusha-Alpecin (Sui) 15.25
17. Bahrain-Merida (Brn) 15.30
18. Trek-Segafredo (USA) 15.35
19. Astana Pro Team (Kaz) 15.40
20. Wanty-Groupe Gobert (Bel) 15.45
21. Quick-Step Floors (Bel) 15.50
22. Bora-Hansgrohe (Ger) 15.55
All times BST
How the Tour de France organisers see today’s stage: “The town being in a basin, it starts with a hill at 4 to 5%. The villages of La Romagne and La Séguinière on the way back aren’t flat either but it’s a mostly rolling course on which specialists Team Sky and BMC Racing Team can be at their ease on those 35km of swapping turns at a high speed.
“Following the incidents of stage 1, only one Team Sky rider is with almost the same time as most of the other GC contenders. Geraint Thomas is even one second ahead of them after he collected one second of bonification at the bonus point of stage 2.
“Hot favourites Team Sky have to beat Bora-Hansgrohe by fifteen seconds to bring the Welshman in the yellow jersey. Their challengers are BMC whose highest ranked rider is Greg Van Avermaet with a deficit of sixteen seconds from Peter Sagan.”
Stage two: Peter Sagan sprinted to victory in La Roche-sur-Yon and took the yellow jersey in yesterday’s stage, which was marred by a crash on the final bend. Here’s Jeremy Whittle’s report …
Stage 3: Team Time Trial – Cholet > Cholet (35.5km)
Ten years after hosting an individual time trial won by Stefan Schumacher, Cholet is the venue for a team version of the Race of Truth in the third stage of this year’s Tour. Here’s William Fotheringham’s take on today’s route from our stage-by-stage guide to this year’s race.
“This is the first chance for gaps to open – particularly if it’s breezy or wet – and all eyes will be on Team Sky, who have yet to win a Tour team time trial. It’s not a straightforward blast, peppered with corners and with two little hills after halfway to put any strugglers under pressure.”