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Chris Froome sets the pace
Last year's champ stays out of trouble in punchy second stage
Chris Froome (Team Sky) made an unexpected appearance at the front of the Tour de France peloton in the finale of stage 2 into Sheffield. The defending Tour de France champion had a dig off the front as the riders hit the top of the final climb up Jenkin road.
Froome did something similar on stage 2 of last year's race when he attacked going into a descent. With Mark Cavendish's crash of the day before fresh possibly on his mind, Froome said that it was once again about safety, rather than playing mind games with his rivals.
"It wasn't necessarily to let them know that I was there. I knew that the descent was very tricky. I preferred to take that at my own pace at the front of the race," said Froome, after his daily warm down.
"It was more of trying to stay out of trouble and stay at the front of the race without losing any time gaps to any of my opponents."
Stage 2 was set up to be a corker, with nine short punchy climbs for the peloton to contend with. It proved to be a slow burner, but in the final 30 kilometres the general classification riders stuck it into sixth gear. The result was a drastically reduced group on the final two climbs.
Froome was one of three Sky riders to make it the cut, joined by teammates Richie Porte and Mikel Nieve. "It was a huge day today, I mean you could see all of the main contenders putting in some moves here there and everywhere in the final. Nibali came on top, taking two seconds from us. It was a massive day," he said.
After Nibali's attack, Froome sat safely at the back of the chasing group ensuring a safe arrival at the finish line. He may have lost two second to Nibali, but it won't be troubling him yet.
For the second day running, there were a huge number of fans lining roads with barely an inch free along the 201-kilometre route. Estimations had the crowds at around two million for the first stage and it looked like the second had attracted just as much attention. Even for a rider who has raced up the natural amphitheatre Bola del Mundo at the 2012 Vuelta a España, Froome couldn't help but be awed by the crowds and atmosphere out on the Yorkshire roads.
"The home support is absolutely unreal. Going up Holme Moss today I was full of goose bumps there was such massive crowds up there cheering for us, it was incredible."