Relieved Froome escapes unhurt after big Tour crash

Riders head down eastern France to the Jura mountains in the opening week, where Stage Five is expected to be especially difficult, as it features a climb with 20% gradients. "We knew that there were slippery conditions, and every time you put your race numbers on you take risks and something could happen", Froome said. Inside, another article showed Geraint Thomas and a caption over the photograph, "Sky accusée de tricherie" or "Sky accused of cheating".

Quintana had been counting on Valverde, a Tour veteran, to help him overthrow defending champion Chris Froome of Team Sky.

Froome and yellow jersey wearer Thomas were among them, with the champion suffering cuts to his lower back.

Colombian Nairo Quintana, runner-up to Froome in 2013 and 2015, limited his losses to 36 seconds, but lost key Movistar team mate Alejandro Valverde, who abandoned after crashing into a safety barrier.

"Hopefully my knee is okay, I have a little bit of a bang on that, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow".

"For me, it's quite funny", Brailsford told Cycling Weekly. "He's ready to be up there and we are ready as a team", the Italian said.

Veteran Jack Bauer is the best of the four Kiwis in 56th place, 49 seconds behind Welshman Thomas, while Dion Smith sits 178th, also on debut.

Thomas spoke to Cyclingnews after the stage: "It's an amazing feeling". Tony Martin, the home favourite, wasn't able to please the waiting crowds as he only managed a time 8 seconds behind Thomas. It is a real challenge to negotiate safely around the crowds when they are by the roadside as they were on Sunday.

With the roads underwater at one point, Porte was left with nowhere to go when a mass crash hit the field as it negotiated a roundabout. "With my mum and my wife I've had a bit of a rough time recently so it's nice to get this win". "We have to stay up front and try to avoid any splits in the bunch".

"The image of cycling and also the way people see it now has changed".

£10 million euros is the going rate to host the start of the Tour de France and Dusseldorf is the city which has the honour this year.

As Kittel rode through Duesseldorf, he was close to shedding tears over the fan turnout.

Team Sky sports director Nicolas Portal said they "abide by rules", adding: "Other big teams have been using it". "And a memory that I will never forget".

Thankfully, at least for those inside the Sky bus, Sunday's spill didn't follow the same script. Marcel Kittel admitted he doesn't feel confident about his yellow jersey chances ahead of today's lumpy third stage in the Tour de France from Verviers to Longwy.

The rain that plagued the riders yesterday returned on the 203.5km stage from Dusseldorf to Liege.

Several riders crashed earlier on the course.

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