Froome look­ing to con­trol Alps

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Chris Froome has tasked his Sky team-mates with mis­sion con­trol as the Tour de France be­gins bru­tally tough backto-back Alpine stages yes­ter­day. The reign­ing cham­pion has an 18 sec­ond lead in the yel­low jer­sey com­pe­ti­tion ahead of Ital­ian Fabio Aru, but two other rid­ers-Ro­main Bardet and Rigob­erto Uran-are also within 30sec of the lead. There are four cat­e­gorised climbs on the menu on Wednes­day’s 183km 17th stage from La Mure to Serre-Che­va­lier, and nearly 60km of steep climb­ing. Al­though the fin­ish is at the end of a long 28km de­scent, there are 30km of climb­ing just be­fore that and Froome is de­ter­mined to keep his ri­vals un­der tight wraps.

“(Wednes­day) is cer­tainly go­ing to be a race for us to con­trol, but other­wise I’m feel­ing good,” he said. “I do be­lieve these next two days are the big­gest con­sec­u­tive days in this year’s Tour de France. “It’s hard to say ex­actly how selec­tive it’s go­ing to be, or just a case of the four of us, all within half a minute, chas­ing each other’s shad­ows, or whether it’s go­ing to be blown wide open. “On the up­side, my­self and (team-mate) Mikel Landa are feel­ing great com­ing into this fi­nal week of the race.”

Landa is fifth at 1min 17sec but could have an im­por­tant role to play as a foil with Froome’s ri­vals con­cen­trat­ing not just on try­ing to take time off the leader, but also cau­tious of Landa’s po­ten­tial to push them off the podium.

“Ev­ery­one is try­ing to get an ad­van­tage over Sky, which is a strong team which prefers to go on the at­tack rather than de­fend,” said Basque Landa. “Who knows, maybe (Wednes­day) will re­quire more at­ten­tion, there are more climbs and more ter­rain for strate­gies-I think it could be more dan­ger­ous.” It’s cer­tainly go­ing to be an epic stage with three huge climbs-the Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Tele­graphe and Col du Gal­i­bier, the high­est point of this year’s race at more than 2,600 me­tres above sea level. It could en­cour­age one of the top 10 ri­vals a bit fur­ther back to strike out a long way from home.

“I’ve lost time but we’ll see how things go (on Wednes­day),” said twice former win­ner Al­berto Con­ta­dor, who was caught out in Tues­day’s cross­winds and lost more than 90sec, drop­ping out of the top 10. “Ev­ery­thing will de­pend on how my legs are and how my ri­vals re­act dur­ing the race.”

The Spa­niard, though, is not one to sit on and wait to see how things pan out. How­ever, with a sum­mit fin­ish to come on Thurs­day and a time-trial on Satur­day, Uran be­lieves the lead­ers might be more con­cerned with avoid­ing los­ing time.

Uran is fourth at 29sec but knows that af­ter Froome, he’s the best time-tri­al­ist amongst the yel­low jer­sey chal­lengers. If he no time in the Alps, he will fancy his chances of over­haul­ing Bardet and Aru on Satur­day. “Now the losses Alps are be­gin­ning,” he said. “You have to be care­ful ev­ery day.”—AFP


LE LA MURE: Great Britain’s Christo­pher Froome (R), wear­ing the over­all leader’s yel­low jer­sey, and Italy’s Fabio Aru ride dur­ing the 183 km sev­en­teenth stage of the 104th edi­tion of the Tour de France cy­cling race yes­ter­day be­tween Le La Mure and Serre-Che­va­lier, French Alps.

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