Reigning champion Chris Froome seized the yellow jersey on Saturday after the Team Sky rider claimed the eighth stage of the Tour de France with a bold downhill attack.
The Brit didn’t make his usual move on the tough last climb but instead broke clear on the 16km descent to the finish.
“Sometimes we’re too predictable so today we decided to change things a bit,” said Froome’s team manager at Sky, Dave Brailsford. “We mixed the tactics to do something unexpected. Well done Chris!”
Froome contradicted his manager, though, saying: “It wasn’t planned. It was just a bit of fun really, I thought I’d give it a try!”
The result was a 13-second stage victory from Ireland’s Dan Martin and Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain.
Froome’s Team Sky’s impressive collective strength was on display throughout the four major ascents of the eighth stage, preventing his main rivals from trying their luck in hot temperatures. They set up a faster tempo in the final climb, before Froome attacked near the summit.
It was a fifth stage win in eight for Britons following three for Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings on Friday. Due to time bonuses on the line for the first three, Froome now leads Rodriguez and young Briton Adam Yates by 16sec.
Colombian Nairo Quintana, Froome’s main rival, finished 13th on the stage and now sits 23 seconds back.