BMC take team time trial stage but Froome makes gains

Adam Yates finished fourth in the 2016 Tour de France

Team Sky, another unusual early starter, were booed by roadside spectators throughout their effort but posted nearly identical times through the first two time checks - as did BMC Racing, who also found themselves in an unfamiliar early start time.

Romain Bardet is now behind the two, meanwhile, as Ag2r-La Mondiale failed to break the 40-minute mark - team time trialling not being their forte.

BMC were among the pre-stage favourites and demonstrated why, celebrating another victory three years after they won the last team time trial stage on the Tour.

Boulder's Taylor Phinney, on the other hand, finished 19 in the stage, just a second behind Froome.

"It's about what I expected, we thought we'd lose a bit to Froome and we lost a bit to Froome", said the dry-witted Quintana.

Sagan leads by six seconds from Gaviria, but the more notable name near the top of the general classification is Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, who sits in seventh, 15 seconds off the lead. "We gave it everything we had and it all went pretty much to plan. You have to step up and deliver on the day and that's not an easy thing to do on a Tour de France team time trial stage".

"It's amusing because at the end of the day it's just another bike race. That's just the nature of the game".

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Three of the early starters were the big winners on stage three of the 2018 Tour de France, as BMC Racing won the stage - and the yellow jersey - and Richie Porte, Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) gained back time lost to their rivals on stages one and two.

Those who managed to avoid the problems and finish on the same time as the sprinters included Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Mikel Landa (Movistar), Rigoberto Uran (EF-Drapac) and Dan Martin (UAE Emirates).

"We rode out of our skin and super smooth and with the horsepower that we have did a great ride", the Irishman said.

"But even if you're on the course and you are taking time back, it's so technical and you have to nail every corner and every turn", he said. To win with these guys is a great feeling.

The 39-year-old, competing in a record 18th Tour de France and his 350th stage, enjoyed his day in the spotlight, sitting up to high-five fans in the towns early in the day as the peloton was happy to let him go.

Overnight leader Colombia's Gaviria, who is just 23, said he was happy to be in the white best young riders jersey, although he too will be in pursuit of the green sprint points tunic too.

While Sky missed out, victory was a boon to Porte - a year to the day after he was hospitalised by the serious crash which ended his 2017 Tour - and the BMC team whose future remains uncertain as they seek a new title sponsor. Once the three were away, the main pack closed ranks to ensure that no other riders could join the break.

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