Froome believed Quintana would win Ventoux stage
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Froome believed Quintana would win Ventoux stage

by VeloNation Press at 7:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Briton speaks about his dominant performance on tough summit finish

Chris FroomeAlthough Chris Froome appeared head and shoulders above his rivals on Sunday’s fifteenth stage of the Tour de France, the Briton has said that at one point, he was convinced that the Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was going to win atop Mont Ventoux.

Quintana attacked thirteen kilometres from the summit and caught and passed the riders in front of him. He was riding very strongly but Froome closed up alone with 6.8 kilometres remaining, then dropped the Colombian. However he fought back and got back up to the Sky rider, and thereafter shared the pacesetting until Froome jumped clear a kilometres and a half from the line.

“I didn't expect to win here today,” said Froome. “I wanted to get more of a buffer on GC but I didn't think I could go for the win. Quintana is a very strong climber and I wasn't expecting him to go from as far as he did but hats off to him, he did a great ride and he showed how strong he is.

“When I did catch up to him, I thought: ‘This guys is going to win the stage today and I'm going to have to settle for second'. But then, in the last two kilometres, he was fading a little and I still had a little bit left. We talked a little bit and I was just trying to say, ‘Man, come on just a little bit more... we're almost there...' but he was slipping behind.

“Near the end, I don't think that I attacked…it was just that he couldn't ride on my wheel anymore and a gap opened up.”

Froome eventually hit the line 29 seconds clear of Quintana, while his next rivals Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel Euskadi) and 2012 WorldTour champion Joaquim Rodriguez were one minute 23 seconds back.

The effort left him four minutes 14 seconds ahead of Bauke Mollema (Belkin Pro Cycling Team), while Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) is four minutes 25 seconds back in third. Quintana is sixth, five minutes 47 seconds adrift of yellow.

He said afterwards that the other Sky riders were invaluable. “The team did a huge job in getting me to the climb in that first position. Kosta took it up at the bottom and Pete took over once Quintana had attacked,” he explained.

“He held him there for a good five kilometres or so and then Richie did a huge pull, pulling back Quintana all the way. and then in the process dropped most of the GC riders. That’s when I knew that that was the moment to squeeze on a little bit more to try to get rid of Contador."

“My main objective of the day was to try and get as much time on the GC as possible. I tried to gap Quintana several times but he just wouldn’t budge from my wheel. I had actually almost surrendered the fact that I was going to have to tow him to the line. I thought he would win today, honestly, but he just lost his legs in the final two kilometres. I was just pushing on to try and take as much time as possible.”

Froome has taken Tour stage wins before, including at Ax 3 Domaines eight days earlier, but was particularly satisfied with Sunday’s showing. “I think today has to be the most memorable and the biggest win I’ve had in my career so far - given that this is the 100th Tour de France,” he said. “To win a stage like that, at the end of 242km of racing, with the crowds that were out on the road and the way the team delivered me to the climb – it was just a massive, massive victory for me.”

He said that the dedication of the Sky team to him has made him all the more determined to hold yellow to Paris. The battle will resume on Tuesday, with the riders due to have the second rest day on Monday.


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