With rivals determined to fight back, important day for Froome at Tour de France
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

With rivals determined to fight back, important day for Froome at Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 4:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Race leader gunning to take more time out of Mollema and Contador

Chris FroomeThe Tour de France won’t be decided today, but the climb to the top of Mont Ventoux will be crucial for Chris Froome’s rivals in determining if they have a chance of beating him in this year’s race.

After Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Tinkoff) reduced their deficits by over a minute on Friday’s stage, the duo are focussed to continue making inroads into Froome’s overall lead.

They have narrowed the gap to two minutes 28 seconds and two minutes 45 seconds respectively, thus moving within striking distance.

Froome showed his previous superiority with a dominant solo stage win eight days ago at Ax 3 Domaines, and reinforced that with a very strong time trial performance this week. However if Mollema or Contador can hold him today – or, ideally for them, take further time back – it will indicate that the Team Sky rider is no longer riding as well as he was earlier in the Tour.

Conversely, if Froome can take additional time out of them, it will strike a big blow against their hopes.

“Every day we go out there and we’ve got a fight to stay in position,” Froome said, speaking about the pressure of being the race leader. “I feel like I’m still adjusting to everything that comes with the yellow jersey. It’s not just about being up at the front of the race on the bike. There’s all the media that’s attached to it and the hype that comes with the yellow jersey. But this is the goal and I feel absolutely privileged to be in this position.”

He has led the race since stage eight and has seen a dramatic crumbling of Team Sky’s strength on stage nine, plus the withdrawal of team-mates Vasil Kiryienka (eliminated on stage nine) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (non-starter on stage thirteen after suffering fractures one day before).

In addition to that, the team has been afflicted by an apparent loss of form by Richie Porte, plus the cracked pelvis suffered by Geraint Thomas at the start of the Tour.

Because of this, Froome will be nervous about what lies ahead, but also determined to try to bolster his lead as much as possible.

He said it was difficult to work out exactly how his rivals will play things out on the climb.

“It’ll be interesting to see as there are so many races within the race here. A lot of people have lost time in the first two weeks. A lot of people have spent a lot of energy already,” he said.

“There are all kinds of motives and reasons for people to do certain things on the climb. It’s quite hard to say beforehand but it’s going to be really exciting either way.”

Froome does admit to nervousness, being concerned that his form could in theory falter. He realises that his lead is not insurmountable, and that he needs to be careful. “The thing I'm most looking forward to in the Alps is getting them behind me – that's got to be what everyone in this position would be thinking.

“There is still everything to race for at this point; two-and-a-half minutes is nothing when you have a bad day in the mountains. I just hope to get through the Alps without any bad days and get a bit closer to Paris.”

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