Chris Froome, Richie Porte and all their overall contenders lost five seconds in the hectic Tour de Francestage 6 sprint finish in Montpellier, but the Team Sky leaders were happy to have successfully survived a possibly hazardous stage across the south of France, taking another step towards the important weekend Pyrenean stages.
Froome and Porte finished 18th and 19th, right behind Cadel Evans (BMC). Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was just behind in 25th place and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) also stayed close, finishing the stage in 29th place.
Froome and Porte are eighth and ninth overall, eight seconds down on Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge).
"It was a stressful but good first week. I think as a team we've come through it really and are sitting in a good position going into the Pyrenees," Froome said after again warming down on the rollers after the finish in Montpellier.
"It's been quite nerve-wracking on the flat stages with everyone really close in the GC and fighting for position. Hopefully when we hit the climbs, it's going top open up and things will calm down a bit."
"I think we're in a great position heading to the Pyrenees. I'm happy with the team around me on and off the bike. I'm looking forward to getting stick unto the second week."
Two key days in the Pyrenees
The weekend stages in the Pyrenees are expected to host the first real showdown between the overall contenders in the Tour de France. Saturday's 195km stage will finish at the Ax 3 Domaines ski resort, while Sunday's 168.5km stage will include five categorized climbs.
"It's going to be a fight, too, but it's something I'm looking forward to and doing things with Chris," Porte said.
"I think he's in good condition. He's relaxed and just so strong. I'm not expecting Alberto (Contador) and Purito (Joaquim Rodriguez) to go down without a fight either, so it's going to be fun."
Porte expects some aggressive racing.
"It's going to kick off. There's a hors categorie climb before the climb to the finish on Saturday. We'll see what happens there," he said.
"Then Sunday stage is going to be tough, too. If you look at the road map and you see the Col de Peyresourde early on, you know it's going to be a big day."