Chris Froome backs Geraint Thomas to keep his Tour de France lead and will now ride in support of his team-mate
Chris Froome has pledged to do everything he can to help his teammate Geraint Thomas secure a first yellow jersey after watching his chances of a fifth Tour de France vanish on the 2,215 m-high Col Du Portet.
While Froome floundered during the 17 th stage from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan on Wednesday, Thomas gained day on his contenders and now leads his nearest challenger Tom Dumoulin by 1min 59 sec- with Froome a further 32 sec back in one-third. Whisper it but the race is now the Welshman’s to lose.
“‘ G’ has ridden such an amazing race he deserves to be in yellow and thumbs intersected he holds it until Paris ,” said Froome, who lost 48 sec to Thomas on the day.” He looks pretty strong and I imagine he’ll be able to finish it off. He’s got an virtually two-minute lead on Dumoulin which is a pretty comfortable buffer. We merely need to look after him for these next few days .”
Froome, who holds all three grand tour titles, also confirmed he would ride in service of his teammate.” That’s professional cycling, that’s what a team is all about. I’m happy merely is in accordance with its own position I’m in. I’ll still fight for the podium and patently we want to see’ G’ up there in yellow .”
However, Thomas, who finished stage 17 in third place behind the win, the Colombian Nairo Quintana, refused to get carried away.” I am feeling good but I can’t let any complacency creep in ,” he said.” I have to keep fuelling and eating and drinking as best as I can .”
However, he did admit to feeling upbeat as he assaulted all his main competitors on general category at the end of the stage.” It was a tough start to the final climb and everyone was on the limit ,” he said.
” But as it went on I was feeling better and better. And then Froomey said on the radio with five kilometres to go that he wasn’t feeling super and that “ve been given” confidence- because, if Froomey was suffering, everyone was suffering. But I was feeling good. This is definitely the strongest I have ever felt in the third week of a grand tour .”
Meanwhile Dumoulin himself played down his chances of being able to draw back two minutes over Thomas.” He was stronger than I was and I have to deal with that ,” the Dutchman said.
” I considered Froome was in difficulty but I didn’t know if it was a bluff so I waited a bit with my assault but I didn’t have the leg to drop Thomas and Roglic.
” I’m focused on myself and I will always maintain a bit of religion and hope. But so far Thomas has proven the strongest .”
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