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Tour de France 2018 Stage 3: BMC win team TT to put Van Avermaet in yellow

Martin James
9 Jul 2018

BMC's time proves unbeatable as Sagan concedes race lead, Team Sky second

BMC Racing won Stage 3 of the 2018 Tour de France, a 35.5km team time-trial starting and finishing in Cholet.

BMC’s winning time of 38’46” was four seconds better than Team Sky, seven seconds up on Quick-Step Floors and nine seconds up on Mitchelton-Scott. It repeated the team's success in 2015, the last time the Tour featured a team time-trial.

Peter Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team never looked like keeping Sagan in yellow, with the Slovakian eventually being dropped by his teammates to limit the losses to GC hopeful Rafal Majka.

with the race lead now switching to BMC's Greg Van Avermaet, the best placed rider among the four to cross the line together.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) lost nearly a minute to his chief rivals, while Vincenzo Nibali, Romain Bardet and Ilnur Zakarin also losing decent chunks of time.

How it unfolded 

The team time-trial might not be the opening week Tour staple it once was, but after the bruising high-octane action of the opening weekend, it represented a major chance for the GC contenders to make some major time gains – or claw back lost time – over their rivals.

Indeed, you only had to look at the scheduled start times to see just who among the favourites was in need of gaining back some time.

First off the ramp was the Mitchelton-Scott team of Adam Yates, then came Froome’s Team Sky, followed by Quintana’s Movistar then Richie Porte’s BMC – a reflection of the time lost by the GC-chasing quartet on the opening stage.

The route certainly gave plenty of opportunity to make some real differences to the overall pecking order. At 35.5km in length starting and finishing in Cholet, the route was undulating rather than hilly, but still a real leg-tester especially after the punishing opening weekend.

Mitchelton-Scott laid down a time of 38’55” for the others to aim at, and Team Sky duly set their sights.

It didn’t seem to be going to plan at first, however, with Sky crossing a handful of seconds down at the first time check at 13km.

By the second check at 26.5km, though, they had overturned the deficit and by the finish line were up by nearly 5 seconds.

Movistar were never favourites for TTT, so it was hard to gauge how happy they were with crossing the line with a time 50 seconds slower.

Fastest time

Then came BMC, who definitely were one of the teams fancied for victory. They looked strong throughout, and were rewarded for their efforts with the fastest time, their time of 38’46” taking four precious seconds out of Sky with a ride averaging 54.9kmh.

So seconds gained and lost for the GC riders starting early, but the big questions remained: would BMC’s time still be the fastest at the end, and who would be in yellow on the podium?

Sagan would have been happy to hold on to it, but the yellow jersey isn’t his priority for the Tour, and with the top 59 riders overall separated by just 16 seconds, it was going to take something special from Bora-Hansgrohe to keep him on top.

In the meantime, Team Sunweb kept Tom Dumoulin at the business end of the overall standings with a ride of 38’58”, conceding just 11 seconds to BMC.

But Bardet will have been less happy to see his AG2R team lose more than a minute, while Bahrain-Merida struggled after a decent start and in the end the fact that Nibali lost a similar amount of time represented a decent exercise in damage limitation.

Quick-Step Floors, the second last team to start, were the one remaining serious threat that could deny BMC the stage win, and started like a house on fire – so much so that their ranks split apart, with second placed rider overall Fernando Gaviria among those cut loose.

The team regrouped, but Gaviria wasn’t among them. Even then, they continued to look ragged, though with 10km still to ride they were still just 6 seconds down.

And they lost just one more second in the finale, leaving Phillipe Gilbert just 4 seconds short of yellow but BMC – and Van Avermaet – with a stage win and the race lead to show after an excellent performance.

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