LIEGE, Belgium (Reuters) - Rival teams have been complaining about the jerseys Team Sky used in the opening time trial at the Tour de France but three-time champion Greg LeMond said that rather than boosting aerodynamics, they had no more than a ‘placebo effect’.
Sky had four riders in the top eight on Saturday, with Geraint Thomas taking the overall leader’s yellow jersey.
Little bubble pads were seen on the upper arms on the jerseys of several Sky riders, including that of defending champion Chris Froome.
Although the race jury said there was nothing illegal, at least two teams complained, saying there was an obvious gain in aerodynamics.
“No way,” American LeMond, on the Tour as an analyst with Eurosport, told Reuters in a daily chat about the race he won in 1986, 1989 and 1990.
“They did that in swimming 25 years ago, it’s only marketing.”
“It has a great placebo effect. I doubt very much it gave them an advantage.”
Sky’s domination was more due to their great shape going into a race they have always favoured over any other event.
“If you look at Team Sky, they’re motivated,” said LeMond.
Froome gained time over all his rivals on Saturday, notably on Australian Richie Porte, who had beaten him comprehensively last month at the Criterium du Dauphine.
“It looked like Richie Porte went slowly to the turns,” LeMond said.
Froome crashed during Sunday’s second stage but there was little he could do to avoid crashing to the ground.
The Briton was well positioned near the front of the peloton but was taken down when a Katusha rider lost balance ahead of him on a slippery corner.
“He was in the front of the group, there’s not a lot anybody could do,” said LeMond.
“It was fortunate for them that the peloton did slow down.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris