Chris Froome's chances of winning a second Critérium du Dauphiné were dealt a blow on stage 3 of the race when Team Sky could only manage sixth, 35 seconds down on winners BMC Racing. The British team also relinquished the yellow jersey with BMC's Rohan Dennis taking the race lead.
Froome finished with four teammates over the rolling 24.5km course, having lost two in the opening kilometres of the stage. A mechanical for Luke Rowe in the last 10 kilometres of the stage meant the team had to ride within themselves in order to finish with the minimum number of five riders. Froome now sits 24th overall, 35 seconds down on Dennis.
"Obviously we were hoping for better day but we had a few issues out on the road. We went a little bit hard in the first part and blew a few guys there, and then we had one or two mechanicals in the mix," Froome told reporters after crossing the finish line.
"There are a few things to learn there but it's still early days in the race. Hopefully it'll be hard days in the mountains."
When asked if he was now on the back foot with the race's mountain stages still to come, the former Tour de France winner agreed: "Definitely, definitely, but that's the way it goes. We'll have to look at other parts of the race to make up that time."
Froome declined to answer further questions, warming down alongside the rest of his squad before having a quiet word with teammate Ian Stannard. The double Omloop winner was among the first Team Sky riders to be distanced during the stage along with Wouter Poels.
Rowe's mechanical was a further blow and he described the stage as he warmed down alongside Kennaugh.
"It wasn't perfect to be honest. There's a lot we can learn from that going into the Tour de France for example," Rowe said. "We lost a couple of guys early on, it's not ideal but that's team time trialling. It happens. Then I had a mechanical and we were left with five guys left with the most important 10km of the race still to go."
Rowe, who is in contention for a slot on the team's Tour de France roster, chose to look ahead to the mountains where Froome will try and claw back time.
"It was just a case of us limiting our losses today. To lose 35 seconds after the mishaps isn't a bad result. The race is only just beginning and we've got nothing to get our head down about. I still believe that we've got the race winner in our team and we'll go out there and keep on fighting."
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.