Tour de France: Chris Froome keeping his cool after losing yellow jersey
Chris Froome was thrilled with his performance over the cobbles yesterday despite losing the Tour de France leader's yellow jersey.
Tony Martin, who began the day one second behind Froome, belatedly claimed a first maillot jaune of his career with victory on stage four to Cambrai after a rollercoaster start for his Etixx-QuickStep team.
Froome (Team Sky) had gained enough bonus seconds to deny the German on Monday, but fell 12 seconds behind in second overall after an accomplished performance across the cobbles of northern France on the 223.5-kilometre route from Seraing in Belgium.
"Losing the yellow jersey at this stage is no big deal," Froome said.
"There is still a long way to go and, as a time-trial specialist, Tony is not going to be there in the mountains.
"I was definitely happier to see it go to him than any of my GC (general classification) rivals."
Froome was expertly guided by a phenomenal effort from team-mate Geraint Thomas and looked to be making gains on two of his main rivals for overall victory as Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) missed notable splits in the bunch.
Yet the pair finished on the same time as Froome and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), the defending champion who was among the main protagonists on the six cobbled sections which came in the final 46km of the stage.
Froome, who survived a wobble after being nudged into the gutter, followed Thomas off the final section of cobbles, with around 8km to go, in first place and surged on.
The pair forced an eight-rider selection including Nibali as well as John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin).
Froome appeared to want the bunch to attack, but a lack of collaboration meant a stalemate and the peloton bridged the gap.
Martin had punctured with around 20km remaining.
But the multiple world time-trial champion had the strength to return to the lead group then timed his attack, going solo 3km from the end to win.
Froome, who spent a British record 15th day in the yellow jersey, added: "It was a bonus to come out of the last cobbled section on the front with Geraint. It wasn't about showing how strong I am, it was about staying out of trouble."