FLAT OUT

Procycling - - Review Of The Year 2016 -

The 11th stage of the 2016 Tour, fin­ish­ing in Mont­pel­lier, was blasted by cross­winds. With 12km to go, Froome fol­lowed an at­tack by Peter Sa­gan, and each was joined by a team-mate. The wind-rav­aged pelo­ton was caught on the hop and could only close to six sec­onds on the fin­ish line. Sa­gan won the stage but Froome had again sur­prised his ri­vals to gain time

I think in any nor­mal flat sprint stage I cer­tainly wouldn’t have even thought about mov­ing in the last 10km like that. But the whole day had been ner­vous with cross­winds and a lot of peo­ple had spent a lot of en­ergy.

This is one of the things you can’t quite pick up from the tele­vi­sion. A lot of peo­ple would have seen a pelo­ton of 150 riders and thought, well that’s go­ing to be a sprint. But know­ing how it felt on the bike, that sense of a lot of peo­ple hav­ing been in the wind… There were a lot of peo­ple there but not a lot of peo­ple who had saved them­selves all day and had the en­ergy to ac­tu­ally make an im­pact on the race. So when we went into a round­about and there was a bit of a pinch point, Sa­gan and Bod­nar pushed on and I was right there. I thought, why not? I’ve been shel­tered all day; let me go for it. If they catch us they catch us; if not, great.

At Sky we’ve got quite a strong Clas­sics back­bone through the team with guys like Ian Stan­nard, Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe. I learn a lot from them in terms of how to ride, when to push and when it’s im­por­tant to back off a bit and save your­self.

Un­til that point we had rid­den the per­fect race. I hardly touched the wind be­fore then. You’ve still got a lot of Clas­sics guys there but in the Tour they are all do­ing dif­fer­ent roles. What worked in my ad­van­tage was that there was that ac­cu­mu­lated fa­tigue of al­ready hav­ing a few days of rac­ing in the legs. Typ­i­cally a Clas­sics rider is a guy who can go very deep on one day. I might be wrong but in my opin­ion the Clas­sics riders prob­a­bly have the edge taken off that abil­ity to go so deep in a Grand Tour be­cause of the ac­cu­mu­lated fa­tigue.

As soon as I was in that po­si­tion I was play­ing a game with the other guys to get them to com­mit. It was easy in the sense that Sa­gan prob­a­bly wanted to go for the stage win. It turned out he was hop­ing to give the stage to Bod­nar. I knew it was only a mat­ter of sec­onds, so I knew the bonus sec­onds were more pre­cious but a stage win in the Tour is not some­thing you feel you can give away.

I never ex­pected to beat Sa­gan in a head-to-head sprint – I knew the re­sult be­fore it hap­pened – but at the same time I thought I had to try.

The sight of the green and yel­low jer­seys to­gether in a break was spec­tac­u­lar

Fed up with fans run­ning along­side on climbs, Froome joined them on Ven­toux

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