Chris Froome of Team Sky has tightened his grip on the 102nd edition of the Tour de France on the first day in the Pyrenees as he put his rivals to the sword and seized control of the race.
The 2013 champion attacked with 6.5 kilometres of the climb of the Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin remaining after some sterling work from Peter Kennaugh, Geraint Thomas - now fifth overall - and finally Richie Porte.
He crossed the line around a minute ahead of team mate Porte, who overhauled Movistar’s Nairo Quintana 300 metres before the line to deny the 2014 Giro champion extra bonus seconds.
The man who began the day second overall, Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing, lost two and half minutes to Froome. He remains second, but is now 2 minutes 52 seconds down after the 167 kilometre stage from Tarbes.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador lost 3 minutes to Froome today, while the title defence of Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali is in tatters, the Sicilian finishing ceding the best part of 4 minutes to the stage winner.
With Sky's Thomas finishing sixth and Adam Yates of Orica-GreenEdge seventh, three British riders finished in the top ten.
On Bastille Day, Pierre Rolland of Europcar was the first French rider to finish, coming home in eighth, with a decade now having passed since David Moncoutie's Fete Nationale win at Digne les Bains in 2005.
Stage winner and race leader Chris Froome
What a stage! Through yesterday's rest day, we were very focused on today's stage. We didn't necessarily want to ride aggressively. We were happy to let a breakaway go, let other teams chase and be more defensive than usual. But when I heard the big names were struggling and getting dropped, I told Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas: “let's push.
I could feel our rivals were in trouble after the rest day so my team-mates set up the finale for me. I attacked when it was steep before the road was flatting out. It's the dream scenario. I couldn't have asked for any better one, especially with Richie coming second and taking the time bonus away from Nairo [Quintana].
Geraint wasn't far at the end, it means a lot for our team. But the race is far from over. In 2013, Alberto Contador took us on in the crosswinds and in the descents. We can expect this to happen again. We have to see how much we'll pay tomorrow for the efforts we produced today.
I wouldn't like to be where my rivals are on GC now after only one climb. But we know that Nairo can be strong in the third week of a Grand Tour. He can put us in trouble. We actually expected that he'd do so today. Movistar rode and I waited for him to attack. It didn't happen so I attacked him.
Even though it's at a different point of the race, the day after the first rest day and not the day before the second rest day, it's amazing to repeat the feeling of the Mont Ventoux when I won at the top of a big mountain with the yellow jersey, on July 14.
Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing, who remains second on GC
Sky definitely put on quite the performance. I tried my best to stay with them. When it got too much for me, I tried to stay in my rhythm and focused on getting to the top. I don't think today was my best day. But it wasn't all bad. I am still keeping a good GC position.
In the overall standings, Froome leads van Garderen by 2:52. Quintana is third, at 3:09. Spanish national road champion Alejandro Valverde is fourth, at 4:01, and one of five riders still within five minutes of the overall lead.
The first mountain day is always tricky. We have done almost two weeks without climbing any real mountains. So it can be quite a shock to the system, especially after a rest day. I feel like it should go better from here. I am definitely still happy about where we are sitting.
Movistar's Nairo Quintana, now third overall
The outcome and my feelings are good but not excellent. We want to raise the tempo at the bottom of the climb to evaluate the level of our rivals. Froome's superiority is implacable. He's stronger than all of us. His rhythm uphill was too high for my abilities of the day.
The last climb was hard with a hell of a heat. I'll have to see how my legs and my body will recover from that. I want to keep my position [third overall] and try and build a strategy to make up for the time lost. My chances to take the yellow jersey are reduced a bit but I'll fight till the end. Two years ago we've seen that Froome was less strong at the end.
We have to see if one day, he's less inspired. He's human and vulnerable, like everyone. My dream in yellow isn't over yet.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.