Tour de France: Chris Froome moves into second overall

'It was only a short little kick to the finish but it was all good,' says defending champion after stage 3

No crashes, no chase and no risks. For a Tour de France contender like Chris Froome (Team Sky) stage 3 from Liège to Longwy was step in the right direction after hitting the deck the previous day.

Froome finished safely in the bunch, in ninth place, two seconds down on stage winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) but in the same time as a number of rivals, and one place down on his teammate, and race leader, Geraint Thomas.

As a result, Froome moved from sixth to second overall but that alteration matters little in the grand scheme of things. It was more important to come through the tricky stage and the uphill finish intact and stay close for the first mountain test in two days time.

"It was good. It was only a short little kick to the finish but it was all good," Froome said with a relaxed shrug as he crossed the line and spoke to Cyclingnews.

Back at the team bus and with a chance to digest the result and run out the lactic acid from his legs as he warmed down, Froome described the stage.

"I think that with all the road furniture out there, and all the narrow turns and wind, everyone was a bit nervous," he said to reporters. One day after a crash at the front of the peloton brought down both Froome and Thomas, and several other GC rivals including Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Richie Porte (BMC), Froome said nobody wanted a repeat of that on Monday.

"Everyone saw what happened yesterday in the last 25 kilometres, and everyone wanted to be on the right side of that in case it happened again."

Both Froome and Thomas started the final climb relatively far back but by the line they had eased into the top 10 and avoided any trouble. Up ahead, Porte had stretched out the lead group before creating a small gap for himself when Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) – sitting in second wheel at the time – drifted back.

It could have been a concern for Sky with bonus seconds available on the line, but the leaders pulled Porte back inside the final few hundred metres. That said, the Australian's attack was the first time we have seen a GC rider even think about an attack in this year's race. Stage 5 to La Planche de Belles Filles cannot come soon enough, it seems.

"I didn't see his move today," Froome said. "I was a bit further back but an uphill finish like that we're going to see some of the climbers have a dig and some of the sprinters were up there as well. There's always going to be a balance."

Froome was then asked if Porte was the favourite to take yellow on stage 5. The BMC Racing rider is over 30 seconds off Froome and 47 down on Thomas.

"He'd have to make up 35 seconds on me, and over 45 seconds on Geraint. That's going to take some doing on a 6km climb."

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