Froome retains his grip as Martin claims yellow
By Julien Pretot
CAMBRAI, France (Reuters) - Chris Froome lost his yellow jersey but retained his grip on his rivals after surviving a day on the cobbles in the Tour de France on Tuesday.
German Tony Martin won the fourth stage with a late attack and snatched the overall lead at the end of a body-punishing 223.5-km ride from Seraing, Belgium.
Team Sky rider Froome was expected to be tested on the seven cobbled sectors that peppered the course, as the Tour entered France for the first time since the grand depart in Utrecht, Netherlands, and he passed with flying colors.
Froome almost fell off his bike after being slightly elbowed by Italian Jacopo Guarnieri, his front wheel hitting a kerb, but the Briton regained control and soldiered on in impressive fashion.
The 2013 champion, who crashed out of last year's Tour just ahead of the first cobbled sectors, even accelerated in the finale, showing he was in top shape as he stamped his authority on the race.
Martin leads Froome by 12 seconds overall with American Tejay van Garderen, another contender for the overall victory, in third place 25 seconds off the pace.
Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana team mate Lars Boom attacked repeatedly on the cobbles hoping to shake Froome but all the defending champion got was the prize for the most aggressive rider of the day.
"I wasn’t trying to show how strong I was on the cobbles today, it was about staying out of trouble," said Froome. Continued...