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PLUMELEC, France — BMC Racing Team won the team time trial at the Tour de France on Sunday, but Chris Froome (Sky) kept the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Froome’s Sky had a five-second advantage at the foot of the final 1.7km, 6.2 percent climb to the finish in Plumelec, but Nicolas Roche cracked under the pace set by Geraint Thomas and his teammates had to slow down to wait for him.
That gave the victory to the BMC team of Tejay van Garderen, who now sits second overall at 12 seconds going into the first rest day.
“We knew we were on a really good one,” said van Garderen. “In a perfect world, we would’ve taken the stage and the yellow jersey, but we’ll take the stage.”
Nairo Quintana’s Movistar team finished third at 4 seconds with Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo fourth at 28 seconds and reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana squad fifth at 35 seconds.
Top 10, stage 9
- 1. BMC RACING TEAM, in 32:15
- 2. TEAM SKY, at :01
- 3. MOVISTAR TEAM, at :04
- 4. TINKOFF-SAXO, at :28
- 5. ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :35
- 6. IAM CYCLING, at :38
- 7. ETIXX-QUICK-STEP, at :45
- 8. LAMPRE- MERIDA, at :48
- 9. LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 1:14
- 10. AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 1:24
Top 10, GC
- 1. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, in 31:34:12
- 2. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC RACING TEAM, at :12
- 3. Greg VAN AVERMAET, BMC RACING TEAM, at :27
- 4. Peter SAGAN, TINKOFF-SAXO, at :38
- 5. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, TINKOFF-SAXO, at 1:03
- 6. Rigoberto URAN URAN, ETIXX-QUICK STEP, at 1:18
- 7. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:50
- 8. Geraint THOMAS, TEAM SKY, at 1:52
- 9. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:59
- 10. Zdenek STYBAR, ETIXX-QUICK-STEP, at 1:59
The battle between BMC and Sky was neck and neck for 20km, with the two level at the first time check and then Sky ahead by 1 second at the next.
But at the foot of the final climb in the 28km stage Sky seemed to have taken a decisive advantage, only to see Roche crack.
As the team’s time is counted when the fifth rider crosses the line and Sky was down to its final five, Froome dropped back to ride beside his struggling teammate to encourage him to the finish.
“It’s true that G (Thomas) was really strong and that took me out of my comfort zone,” said a distraught Roche. “I don’t have any words to explain my disappointment.”
Froome seemed content to have defended his jersey, though.
“At 0.6 seconds, you can’t really cut it too finely there to say where we messed up. The guys gave it everything — everyone was really motivated for this team time trial,” he said.
“In the final we saw Nico Roche struggling a little bit up that final climb but that’s the nature of the team time trial. He gave so much earlier on; you definitely can’t put it down to him struggling on the final climb.
“We gave it everything and BMC were just better than us.”
Despite missing out on the stage win, it was another successful day for Froome, with only van Garderen able to gain time on him, and that just one second.
Contador dropped 27 seconds to the leader and is now fifth overall at 1 minute and 3 seconds.
Quintana is up to ninth at 1:59 and only gave up 3 seconds to Froome, a relative success for the Colombian climber.
“We’re a little bit sad because we didn’t win the stage, but it’s okay,” said Quintana. “Today I managed to win back a little time against some of my rivals.”
The big loser was Nibali, who lost time for the second consecutive day and is now 2:24 off the pace.
Editor’s note: AFP contributed to this report.