The tour de France to 2018: BMC wins in the team cutting

BMC beats Sky to capture team time trial

Froome booed as BMC edge Sky in team time-trial

Besides still having to make up most of the 51 seconds he lost in a Stage 1 crash, Chris Froome faces another challenge as he seeks a record-tying fifth Tour de France title - Richie Porte's BMC team.

BMC proved the class of the field, completing the 35.5km circuit around Cholet in a time of 38 minutes 46 seconds, four seconds ahead of Sky, to put Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet in yellow.

Defending champion Froome lost four seconds to Richie Porte, but took five seconds off British rival Adam Yates, eight seconds off world champion Tom Dumoulin of Sunweb, 50 seconds off Colombia's Nairo Quintana and was a less-than-expected 1min 11sec quicker than French hope Romain Bardet.

Movistar could only manage 10th place on the day, 50 seconds off Team Sky's pace, which means Froome is nearly back on level terms with Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde, while Nairo Quintana dropped even further back after his opening day woes.

Overall, Froome is in 18th place, 55sec off the pace and still 44 behind 2017 Giro d'Italia victor Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, who with Team Sunweb only lost 7sec to the Briton. "We've got some specialists in the team, I'm so happy we got this collective victory".

Van Avermaet's teammate Tejay van Garderen finished on the same time to take second place overall with Sky's Geraint Thomas in third.

"It was an unbelievable day and a really hard test for us", said Froome after the race.

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The world champion profited from a mass crash that also involved the victor of stage one, Colombian Fernando Gaviria and another favourite Michael Matthews, some two kilometres before the finish. It would have been nice not to have thrown 51 seconds away on the first day.

It was also a very satisfying day for Froome, the Kenyan-born Briton ignoring some booing at the start line and making up some of the valuable time he lost on Saturday's first stage.

The main favourites for the Tour de France Christopher froome after three rounds loses the interim leader 55 seconds. "It's still a long way to go, six more hectic days and the mountains".

"I feel maybe even better (than last year)", he added.

Quick Step Floors had gone out onto the course with the opportunity of getting Fernando Gaviria back into the overall lead, and also had a chance of getting Philippe Gilbert into the yellow jersey should the Colombian be tailed off.

The Tour heads into the cycling hotbed of Brittany on Tuesday for Stage 4, a mostly flat 195-kilometer leg from La Baule to Sarzeau that starts and ends on the Atlantic coast.

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