Safety first for Froome on the cobbles
Having stayed safe on the treacherous cobblestones, Chris Froome cared little about conceding the race leader’s yellow jersey to Tony Martin on Tuesday’s fourth stage of an actionpacked Tour de France.
After crashing out of last year’s race early, following three crashes in two days, Froome had good reason to be nervous given that this stage featured seven sections of cobbles.
But the nightmare scenario never materialized, and the British rider repelled the attacks of defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali as the valiant Italian failed to claw back time on him.
“I wasn’t trying to show how strong I was on the cobbles today; it was about staying out of trouble,” said Froome, the 2013 Tour champion. “Congratulations to Tony for his late attack.”
Relieved after cruising through the final paved section, Froome did not chase as the German rider peeled away some 3 kilometres (2 miles) from the line to clinch a fifth Tour stage win and take the yellow after narrowly missing it on stage 1.
“While Tony’s a great time trialist, he’s not going to be there in the mountains,” Froome said. “I’m happy to see the jersey go to him rather than any of the big overall rivals. This is the perfect situation for us.”
Ferocious side-winds in stage 3, a huge crash on stage 4 that took down 20 riders and put five out of the race, and Tuesday’s cobbles have presented riders with a dangerous cocktail of hazards.
Froome’s come through them unscathed and with a healthy lead over his rivals.
He leads two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador by 36 seconds; Nibali by 1:38 and Colombian rider Nairo Quintana, the 2013 runner-up, by 1:56.
“We can all let off a big sigh of relief after today,” Froome said. “It was a stressful stage and sketchy on the cobbles, and I know we’ll all be sleeping a lot better tonight.”
The 30-year-old Martin fell into the arms of his teammates after the stage. Countryman John Degenkolb finished second and Slovak Peter Sagan was third.