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Sagan dons yellow jersey as Froome increases chances of Tour victory

By Ian Parker

Published 04/07/2016

Out in front: Slovakia's Peter Sagan crosses the finish line at the end of the 183 km second stage of the Tour de France yesterday
Out in front: Slovakia's Peter Sagan crosses the finish line at the end of the 183 km second stage of the Tour de France yesterday

As Mark Cavendish handed yellow off to Peter Sagan, Chris Froome boosted his own chances of ending the Tour de France in the maillot jaune for a third time as key rivals lost time on stage two.

Cavendish never expected to retain the yellow jersey he won on Saturday for more than a day, and so it proved as world champion Sagan won an uphill sprint in Cherbourg ahead of Etixx-QuickStep's Julian Alaphilippe.

But while Sagan celebrated the first yellow jersey of his career, Tinkoff team-mate Alberto Contador was left to count the cost of a second crash in as many days after rolling over the line some 48 seconds after Froome, battered and bruised.

The news was even worse for Froome's former team-mate and now rival Richie Porte. The BMC rider suffered a puncture five kilometres from the line and lost one minute 45 seconds to the other overall contenders.

"It's unfortunate for Alberto and Richie, but it goes with the territory in these kind of stages," said Froome.

"Those are pretty significant gaps, but it's too early to rule anyone out of contention.

"My main objective was to stay out of trouble and stretch my legs - I think we can tick that box, and thankfully there were no major issues."

The puncture was a huge blow to Porte, who came here as joint-leader of BMC alongside American Tejay van Garderen. With so much time lost, the Australian may now find himself reduced to a supporting role.

"It was a disaster, but what can you do?" he said. "I was sitting second wheel in perfect position. I don't know what the hell I hit, but the next thing I know I had a flat.

"The Tour is far from over, but it's quite a hard one to take. At the end of the day I guess we'll just pretend like it never happened and wait for the mountains to come."

Contador said: "I must stay calm, not lose morale, I'm still standing, but I have been really touched. The Tour has really started on the wrong footing. I'm not happy at all."

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