7 Jul 2015

Froome takes early lead at Tour de France

8:52 am on 7 July 2015

Chris Froome has seized early control of the Tour de France, the 2013 champion snatching the yellow jersey after a crash-marred third stage won by Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez.

Chris Froome riding for UCI ProTeam Team Sky.

Chris Froome riding for UCI ProTeam Team Sky. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Katusha rider Rodriguez had the best kick up the punishing Mur de Huy, where the Fleche Wallonne classic ends, beating Team Sky's Froome by a narrow margin while France's Alexis Vuillermoz ended up third, four seconds back.

Rodriguez, who won the Fleche Wallonne in 2012, attacked about 400 metres from the line and held off Froome.

"It is very unexpected, I was hoping to be up there today and to put more time on my rivals," Froome told reporters at the end of the 159.5km ride from Antwerp, Belgium.

Overall, Froome leads German Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) by one second with American Tejay van Garderen in third place 13 seconds off the pace after losing 11 seconds on the day.

Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) also lost 11 seconds but they are still in the game 1:56 and 1:38 behind Froome respectively.

Spain's Alberto Contador lost 18 seconds but lies only 36 seconds off the pace before Tuesday's tough fourth stage that features much feared cobbled sectors.

"Froome is very strong, he almost won the stage. There are a lot of days left, we have to stay positive. Tomorrow we'll have to survive," said Contador.

"It's an incredible Tour with every day a lot of stress, a lot of tension, it's very nervous."

New Zealand cyclist Jack Bauer is 13 minutes behind the leader Froome, while Greg Henderson is a further 3 minutes back from Bauer.

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