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"We didn't necessarily want to ride aggressively. We were happy to let a breakaway go, let other teams chase and be more defensive than usual."

Photo: Sirotti








14.07.2015 @ 18:20 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Chris Froome powered to an emphatic victory on stage 10 at the Tour de France to extend his grip on the yellow jersey.


The fireworks began early on Bastille Day as Team Sky took it up on the climb of La Pierre-Saint-Martin, setting a searing tempo before Froome launched a long-range move with six kilometres to go.


Quickly putting time into his rivals, Froome forged on up the hors-categorie ascent, eventually taking the stage win by 59 seconds over team-mate Richie Porte.


After stellar work from the team it was Porte’s acceleration which blew apart an already reduced front group, with only Froome and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) able to hold his wheel.


Froome didn’t wait much longer, launching a decisive attack to quickly gap the Colombian, putting 1:04 into him at the finish.


By that time a host of overall contenders had already slipped back, with Froome putting 2:30 into Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), 2:51 into Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 4:25 on Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). That all translated to an overall lead of 2:52 over nearest rival van Garderen.


Geraint Thomas also hung on for sixth on the stage after shutting down accelerations from Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). That performance elevated the Welshman up to fifth place on the GC, 4:03 back on team-mate Froome.


Taking maximum points on the first mountain-top finish of the race, Froome also moved into the polka dot jersey. With second on the stage and also the standings, Porte will campaign the jersey on stage 11. Team Sky also powered into the lead of the team classification by just over six minutes.


After the stage a delighted Froome talked about the gameplan on the race's opening mountain, explaining: "What a stage! Through yesterday's rest day, we were very focused on today's stage. We didn't necessarily want to ride aggressively. We were happy to let a breakaway go, let other teams chase and be more defensive than usual. But when I heard the big names were struggling and getting dropped, I told Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas: “let's push”. I could feel our rivals were in trouble after the rest day so my team-mates set up the finale for me.


"I just thought instead of riding a defensive race, ‘come on guys let’s push on here. Some guys are in trouble let’s take advantage of that.’ I asked the guys to push on a bit. The legs felt good so I think it worked out just to plan.


"I attacked when it was steep before the road was flatting out. It's the dream scenario. I couldn't have asked for any better one, especially with Richie coming second and taking the time bonus away from Nairo [Quintana]. Geraint wasn't far at the end, it means a lot for our team.


"But the race is far from over. In 2013, Alberto Contador took us on in the crosswinds and in the descents. We can expect this to happen again. We have to see how much we'll pay tomorrow for the efforts we produced today. Two years ago, we were in trouble in the second day in the Pyrenees, we hope to not repeat that. 


"But everyone has seen how strong we were in the team time trial. We've learnt the lessons from the past. We'll be on our guards. I can always fear a mechanical or a puncture at the worst moment. That could have consequences. We'll also be careful of early breakaways. We'll stay focused. 


"Now we’re just going to have to take it on a daily basis. I’m in such a great position now and with such team around me. Guys like Richie Porte coming second, G just a few places back in fifth – it just shows the calibre of riders I’ve got supporting me. Hopefully now we can just ride a defensive race. Let’s see – there’s still a very long way to go to Paris but of course I’m ecstatic about how it went today.


"When I heard [the time gaps] on the radio it was like music to the ears, especially this early in the race. There are some really big time gaps today which I’m quite surprised about, seeing as we only had the one climb on the final. The one thing that comes to mind for me is that maybe some of the guys didn’t look after themselves quite that well through the rest day yesterday, or maybe came out of the rest day feeling quite heavy. My guys were great. It was a dream day for us.


"I wouldn't like to be where my rivals are on GC now after only one climb. But we know that Nairo can be strong in the third week of a Grand Tour. He can put us in trouble. We actually expected that he'd do so today. Movistar rode and I waited for him to attack. It didn't happen so I attacked him.


"Even though it's at a different point of the race, the day after the first rest day and not the day before the second rest day, it's amazing to repeat the feeling of the Mont Ventoux when I won at the top of a big mountain with the yellow jersey, on July 14."



Early in the 167km test Team Sky set the initial tempo with Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard before Movistar added men to the front, upping the pace in the process.


The Spanish team continued that push onto the final climb, and after Pete Kennaugh had helped manoeuvre Froome into position, the team held back initially as the group began to thin out.


Wout Poels was the first to hit the front as Team Sky began to turn the screw, with both Nibali and Rigoberto Uran (Etixx – Quick-Step) losing contact with 10.6km to go. Next up Thomas set an impressive pace, barely allowing Valverde a bike-length when the Spaniard attacked.


After Porte and then Froome had blown the group to pieces, Quintana looked to limit his losses to the maillot jaune in the final kilometres. Porte finished well and clawed his way back up to the Colombian, eventually pushing on to seal a spectacular 1-2 on the stage.



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