/ Cycling

Froome glad to have survived Grand Depart

Updated: Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 13:30 | Comments

Chris Froome looks on while race leader Vincenzo Nibali talks to the press
Chris Froome looks on while race leader Vincenzo Nibali talks to the press

Chris Froome was already looking ahead to the battles to come after negotiating a memorable Grand Depart unscathed.

The Team Sky leader was fifth overall entering Tuesday's 163.km fourth stage from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille.

Froome finished Monday's Cambridge to London stage safely in the pack as Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) continued his sprint supremacy on The Mall before the Tour peloton flew to France after a hugely successful Grand Depart in Yorkshire.

"We can expect a day pretty similar to (Monday) - another case of just getting through it," the defending champion said on teamsky.com

"But on stage five we hit the cobbles and that's definitely going to be quite a shake-up. Literally."

The 155km route from Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hinaut through the battlefields of northern France - marking the centenary of World War One - is one Froome has not been relishing.

His chief lieutenant Richie Porte expects a different welcome for Team Sky on French soil after the British squad enjoyed partisan support on UK roads.

"The very vocal home support has been absolutely unbelievable," the Australian said.

"I don't expect that in France. It's going to be a little more hostile there.
"Yorkshire was probably something that us guys will never experience again but for a working day London was absolutely incredible too."

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford insisted his priority remains winning the Tour with a British rider after earlier stating his wish to help find a first French winner since 1985.

Brailsford established Team Sky with the aim of producing a first British winner and has succeeded, with Sir Bradley Wiggins' 2012 triumph in the 99th edition followed last year by Froome.

Now Brailsford has told French newspaper L'Equipe of his desire to give France a first winner since Bernard Hinault won the last of his five titles 29 years' ago.

Brailsford told L'Equipe: "I would like to win with a French rider. I think it needs to happen. For the Tour, for France, for the French, for the sport, having a French winner would be massive."

Brailsford, who is rumoured to be targeting Frenchman Warren Barguil, is a fluent French speaker and was keen to satisfy a French audience craving for a successor to Hinault.

However, speaking at Horse Guards Parade at the conclusion of the third stage, Brailsford compared the prospect of a French winner to Andy Murray's Wimbledon triumph of last summer.

"The comment was more about a national event, if it's won by the same nation's rider, what a fantastic thing that can be," he said.

"We've seen it with Andy Murray. It would be an exciting thing to see."
There are just three Britons remaining in the field for the 101st Tour after Mark Cavendish's crash on day one in Harrogate.

The 29-year-old will undergo shoulder surgery on Wednesday and faces around six weeks out after rupturing all ligaments around his acromioclavicular joint and a separated shoulder as he sought a first yellow jersey of his career.

The Omega Pharma-QuickStep sprinter, who will now not be able to represent the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, said: "It's worse than I was hoping but immediately after the crash I knew something was really wrong.

"It is really painful, but at the moment all I can do is focus 100 per cent of my effort on my recovery to be able to get back racing for Omega Pharma-QuickStep as quickly as possible."

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