Sagan takes stage 11, Froome gains time

The worst to fare was Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), the 2007 and 2009 Tour champion who abandoned with 100 kilometers to go despite showing signs that he might have recovered from his injuries in crashes on stages one and two by getting into an early break. That Van Avermaet went on to win stage 5, and the yellow jersey, and Richie Porte was raging on the queen stage to Arcalis only amplifies the gravity of the error on stage 3.

However, it was Cummings who attacked first and he rode solo over the summit and maintained a comfortable lead on the ensuing high-speed descent and slight rise to the finish in Lac de Payolle. He lead the race by almost three minutes after that, again never being overtaken.

"Overall, I can't say the weather had an impact, but I'm sure it looked cooler on TV than it did from where I was sitting", said Martin afterwards.

Thomas' impressive display at last year's Tour de France helped Froome win a second title with the Cardiff-born rider ultimately finishing 15th.

Froome leads fellow countryman Adam Yates and Rodriguez by 16 seconds in the overall standings. On Stage 8 all went according to plan, although Froome's attack came when it was least expected.

On Monday, as riders enjoyed the first day of the Tour that finishes on Sunday week in Paris, many others were still wondering about Quintana who is fourth overall at 23 seconds. "I'm glad I did".

Previously known as a more calculating rider who slowly wore down his opponents without any surprise moves, he constantly faced doping accusations en route to winning last year's Tour.

Television cameras caught the moment that he pulled over, handed his bike to a mechanic and then waved to spectators before being driven away in his team auto.

Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford said Orica-BikeExchange rider Yates should not dismiss his hopes of making an impact in the GC.

"At the end of the day there's only one team controlling this race, and that's us", Brailsford said.

Losing Contador from the race is a game changer, but it was even more critical because of a tactical error by BMC Racing Team.

The bigger gaps also made Froome more comfortable in the yellow jersey ahead of Thursday's mountain finish at Mont Ventoux on Bastille Day. "We've just got to see, the race is only going to get harder from now, and Movistar is also such a strong team".

The race heads to the Alps in the third week, with a rare mountain time trial wedged in between several more grueling Alpine stages.

No wonder he struggled to believe that he finally won a Tour stage on Tuesday.

"I have no doubt people out there will already be calculating my VAM (velocity ascended meters per hour) going down that last climb, and saying that it was off the charts", Froome said sarcastically, flashing a wide smile. I thought I would give it [attacking downhill] a try. Maybe he's saving it for one big move'.

"I guess people just don't quite understand how it is when you're on the limit - it's just not always possible to keep attacking".

"Competing in only his second Tour, the 23-year-old Yates is leading the next generation of British cyclists".

Will the Colombian chance his arm a little earlier this time around?

Froome has not managed to stamp his authority on the Tour this year as he did in his previous two successful yellow jersey tilts.

South Africa's Louis Meintjes is 39 seconds behind Yates in the race for the young riders' white jersey, with Frenchman Warren Barguil nearly another two minutes further adrift.

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