BMC edge Sky in Tour de France team time trial

Peter Sagan is stoked to ride disc brakes at the 2018 Tour de France

Peter Sagan is stoked to ride disc brakes at the 2018 Tour de France

The song about the French Revolution recalls how, during the Battle of Cholet, Henri de la Rochejaquelein attached white handkerchiefs to his hat, chest and side to make himself more visible to his troops.

Romain Bardet is now behind the two, meanwhile, as Ag2r-La Mondiale failed to break the 40-minute mark - team time trialling not being their forte.

"I only ask that the followers of cycling have a positive attitude and support the cyclists, even if they do not like Chris Froome or Sky they should pick a favourite and get behind them".

Chris Froome was loudly booed again at the start of the Tour de France second stage on Sunday, as the defending champion being cleared of doping a year ago seemed to count for little with the French crowd.

Few could have predicted the wild final run into Fontenay on Saturday which left four-time champion Froome, who fell into a ditch, and other favorites Richie Porte and Adam Yates trailing stage victor Fernando Gaviria in the overall standings by 1 min and 1 sec.

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Van Avermaet, who excels at single-day classics, isn't a threat for the overall title but he could keep the lead through the cobblestoned Stage 9 ending in Roubaix.

He told ITV4: "We did an awesome job, the boys were wonderful and a year ago at the team time trial at the Worlds no one suited up as the strongest and there was not much difference between everyone again today and that's exactly what you want".

With stage one victor Fernando Gaviria among those caught out, Bora-Hansgrohe's Sagan moves into the yellow jersey on bonus seconds after finishing second on Saturday. "That's just the nature of the game".

Sagan came up short in the opening stage's sprint when he crossed second behind Fernando Gaviria, who won on his Tour debut.

"It was a strong effort from everyone", said the 33-year-old. "It's never nice to lose time, never good to start on the back foot, but there's a lot of racing to come".

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The other members of BMC are Patrick Bevin, Damiano Caruso, Simon Gerrans, Stefan Kung and Michael Schar.

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas missed out on the yellow jersey by just three seconds, having started the day sixth in the general classification and one second up on Van Avermaet. "To win the stage with a team like we have here, and especially with the passing of Andy Rihs, is special", Porte said. "Right now it is more about chest-thumping and psychological advantages".

After the first stage that hugged the Atlantic coast, the race rolled inland through green pastures, forest groves, and yellow wheat fields baked by the summer sun.

Tuesday's stage sees the tour take on 195 kilometres from La Baule to Sarzeu through flat terrain that will end in a sprint finish.

The only individual time trial of the race comes in the penultimate stage, over a 31-kilometer route from Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle to Espelette in the Basque country.

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