Team Sky in yellow: the reaction

Team performance to remember

Last Updated: 07/07/13 5:12pm

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Kennaugh: Put in a huge shift on the front

Kennaugh: Put in a huge shift on the front

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Chris Froome pulled on the yellow jersey on stage eight at the Tour de France as Team Sky took the biggest race in cycling by the scruff of the neck.

The Pyrenees marked the first serious climbs of the race and the first summit finish in the form of Ax 3 Domaines. An emphatic Froome added the climb to his list of the team’s conquests as he pulled on yellow just short of a year after team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins managed the same feat.

A stage later in the race but a day earlier in July, capturing the maillot jaune was the product of a huge team performance of which the emphatic 1-2 finish with Richie Porte was just the tip of the iceberg.

After the stage Sports Director Nicolas Portal explained the plan for the stage and how the leader’s jersey had always been viewed as a bonus.

“The plan was to put time gaps into some of the other GC contenders on the stage,” he confirmed. “The yellow jersey or the stage weren’t necessarily the priority but we knew if we did a good enough job then they could come.

“In the end the whole team did an incredible job. We took it up right from the start with Geraint [Thomas] riding on the front for us. Pete [Kennaugh] was amazing, Kiri [Vasil Kiryienka] too – but the whole team can be proud of themselves today.”

Coming of age

After putting in a mammoth stint on the front, Kennaugh was justifiably proud of his performance having led his team over the Col de Paliheres before flying down the descent to the foot of the final climb.

The Manxman admitted: “I’m pretty happy with myself and obviously the way Richie and Froomey were able to finish it off. For me getting selected for the Tour was a big thing in itself and I was always a bit nervous about how I was going to perform and whether I was going to live up to the job that I had to do. Today I proved why I was selected. It’s great for the team and my own confidence as well.”

And as for how he felt flying off the hors categorie Paliheres, Kennaugh added with a smile: “I was buzzing. It was great on the descent. I like them as much as the climbs and it’s all good bike racing.”

The 24-year-old is competing in his first Tour de France and is full of praise for the way team leader Froome rides.

“It’s so easy to commit to Froomey because of the way he handles everyone. He has respect for every single rider on the team no matter what their job is. Every time you go out on your bike you give 100% for him because you know you’re going to get 100% back from him. He’s the most consistent rider I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve not seen him have a bad day all season.

“His attacks are very precise and he knows if he’s able to hold or sustain that power. He’s also very relaxed on the climbs. Even though he’d be comfortable he’d be saying: ‘Pete make sure you get over the top of this climb we need you over the top.’ He’s great to ride for.”

On the big stage

After standing on the podium in yellow Froome was happy to finally be leading on the biggest stage in cycling.

“This is where it counts and this is the main objective of the season, building up to where I am now wearing this jersey,” he said.

“It’s quite hard to take in, to think that this is the pinnacle of our cycling calendar and to be here having achieved such results today – myself and Richie Porte first and second. The team have come through the first week in such a good position. We’re really, really happy.

“There’s definitely a long way to go but I think we’ve got to take advantage of every uphill finish and every GC day that there is. The time trial is coming up and this is really an optimum position to be in. I feel really privileged to be here.”

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