Fourth Tour title nearly secure, but Froome says it's getting harder

Lawrence Cooper
July 23, 2017

Froome now leads the general classification by nearly a minute over Rigoberto Uran of Cannondale-Drapac, with only the processional stage into Paris remaining.

"I'm exhausted", Bardet said. "Some days I was really hurting to stay with the best guys".

Over the three weeks, Froome executed fewer of his trademark devastating accelerations in the high mountains. In the climb, he'll take a lot of time on people like me.

It's been an interesting Tour de France for cycling fans - Mark Cavendish was forced to pull out after breaking his shoulder, a controversial crash saw Slovak Peter Sagan kicked out of the competition, and Chris Froome looks to be heading for yet another victory.

The top three riders in the general classification were all within 29 seconds of each other going into Saturday's stage but there was little suspense as Froome is a much better time-trialist than Uran and Bardet. Of course, this year's Tour is almost at its end.

The last French victor, Bernard Hinault in 1985, hailed from Brittany, and three-time Tour champion Greg Lemond has picked out another Breton, Barguil, as the man to end France's long wait. "But I got this". With another gruelling trip across the Alps and Pyrenees, who will wear the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysees?

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Froome had been odds-on to take the title since emerging safely from the Alps with his lead intact on Thursday.

Froome finished six seconds off the pace and five behind his Sky team mate Kwiatkowski, who has been instrumental in his leader's ride to what should be his third consecutive, and Team Sky's fifth, victory in the last six years.

Having a time trial on the penultimate day was seen as Froome's trump card given his strength against the clock, and so it proved. Instead, they and Froome settled for a quiet ride while the 20 in front hunted the stage victory.

After a harrowing half-hour in the saddle, the embattled Bardet dropped to third place in the general classification but retained his place on the podium by just one slender second on Froome's team-mate, the Spaniard Mikel Landa. Five-time cumulative points victor Peter Sagan, the multiple world champion whose aura is as colorful as his rainbow stripes, was controversially ejected in the first week for his role in the Stage 4 crash that forced Mark Cavendish to abandon.

"I think everyone would agree with me when I say I have a unique style on the bike" - a victorious Froome was able to mock his own often gangly style when asked if he had used the Tour greats as role models when he was younger. "After the stage when I went alone I was thinking I need to do something nice again". Frenchman Romain Bardet struggled in the heat and dropped to third overall, two minutes, 20 seconds behind Froome.

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