The BMC Racing Team continued to keep its two riders in the top 10 out of trouble Friday at the Tour de France and the result helped defending champion Cadel Evans move up one spot, from seventh to sixth, in the overall standings.
Evans and teammate Tejay van Garderen, who is fourth overall and still leading the best young rider classification, avoided several crashes that involved several of the race favorites. The most serious of the pile-ups happened with 25 kilometers left in the 207.5 km race and cost a number of riders at least two minutes, including last year's third-place finisher Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling), who had been fifth in the overall standings. Van Garderen said the BMC Racing Team did not want to take advantage of the misfortune of others. "We heard there was a big split, but we didn't drive it at the front or anything," he said. "We just tried to keep good position and stay safe. We're lucky to have such strong guys on the team. It's a shame and I hope everyone's OK, but crashes are part of the game. That's why we're expending so much energy to stay at the front and stay safe." Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) won his third stage by beating André Greipel (Team Lotto-Belisol), who had won the past two days.
Evans is 17 seconds off the race lead of Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) heading into Saturday's 190.5 km stage that features the first significant climbing of the three-week race and a mountain-top finish. The former world road champion said the BMC Racing Team has done a "fantastic" job of keeping him safe. "We'd normally say the real test starts tomorrow, but maybe it started today," Evans said. "I'm feeling pretty fresh at this point. It hasn't been the hardest first week we've had, that's for sure. Not since the Tours I've ridden at least – eight of them now. But now the guys' legs are starting to get softened and tomorrow will be the first real test of who has really come here for the overall contention."