Chris Froome launched his assualt on the Yellow Jersey today with an emphatic Tour de France stage win. As with his normal team tactic, the Brit stayed close to his main general classification rivals.
In the mountains of the Pyrenees, Froome - who is the defending champion - stayed in the leading group of riders. A small group did break away at one point, but with the Team Sky train keeping up the pace, the group of four was dragged back.
Froome does battle with fellow Brits
The battle for the Yellow Jersey was wide open at the start of the stage, with fellow Brit Adam Yates also in contention. Froome, who is reknowned for his climbing skills, was the first over the 1,569m summit on the stage.
Making the break at the top, the Brit surpised his closest rivals, and headed off on the descent with a decent lead. To keep the time fast and the gap sufficient, Froome actually sat on the crossbar of the bike and pedalled hard.
Taking the apex of the corners as close as possible also gave the Brit even more of an advantage. Adding in the time bonus for winning the stage, Froome goes into the next stage with a 23-second lead over his nearest rivals; Movistar's Nairo Quintana & BMC's Tejay van Garderen. Unusally for his rivals, no one went with him when he made the break, likely because it caught them all by surprise.
Froome excels with childlike sprint
Alberto Contador had a bad stage today, and is now three minutes and 12 seconds behind the Brit and the race for the yellow jersey. Froome had not planned the attack and admitted that it was just spur of the moment.
"I felt like a kid again, just trying to ride my bike as fast as I could," he said. "I was taking a risk but I'm glad I did. I couldn't be happier to be back in yellow."
Froome and Team Sky will be trying to hold onto the lead to allow the Brit to win his third Tour and his first back-to-back wins.
The British riders have had a good start to this year's tour, winning five of the eight stages. Yates retains the young rider's jersey, whilst Mark Cavendish retains the green jersey despite finishing 39 minutes behind Froome today.