Tour de France 2016

Reigning champion Chris Froome gave a demonstration of his versatility in riding away on a fast descent to take the yellow jersey at the Tour de France on Saturday. "This is a much bigger bike race than the Olympic Games and I'm just grateful I've got the opportunity to race here".

Froome's Team Sky's impressive collective strength was on display throughout the four major ascents, preventing his main rivals from trying their luck in hot temperatures.

Alberto Contador's hopes of challenging for yellow could be over after the Tinkoff rider suffered on the final climb, giving up one minute 41 seconds to Froome to fall three minutes 12 seconds off the pace overall.

"It wasn't really planned". "They were sticking to us".

The incident - triggered by a fan getting too close to the base of the arch and accidentally dislodging a pin holding it in place, thus letting the air out of the inflatable banner - meant that organisers chose to take the official stage times from the 3km-to-go mark rather than on the finishing line. "I really felt I was taking the race on and enjoying it".

The riders competing in the 2016 Tour de France can nearly enjoy their first rest day of this year's race, as Sunday's Stage 9 will be the last before the peloton gets the day off in Andorra.

Froome gritted his teeth as he crossed the line, raising both arms in celebration then pumping his right fist emphatically.

The two-time Tour victor and defending champion led a select group of riders over the top of the Col de Peyresourde and immediately accelerated away, taking victory by 13 seconds from Ireland's Dan Martin, who led the chasing pack home.

He leads fellow Briton Adam Yates (Orica-Bike Exchange) and Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) by 16 seconds ahead of Sunday's uphill finish in Andorra Arcalis.

After losing more than three minutes to the main contenders in Friday's first Pyrenean stage, Frenchman Thibaut Pinot attacked at the foothill of the mountain pass. But with Pinot at the front of the race, the peloton kept the breakaway in check.

An attack towards the end of the stage from Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) was pulled back by Froome who then went on to produce a blistering descent down the Col du Peyresourde on his way to victory.

Cummings went clear of a large breakaway group before ascending the Col d'Aspin and was able to hold on for his second Tour de France victory, following his first win in last year's event.

The Briton is nearing the end of his professional career at 35 but a year ago he won his first stage on the Tour with a smart ride on stage 14 to outwit French duo Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet.

"It was one of the toughest days so far", said Sky rider Geraint Thomas.

  • Rosalie Stanley