Tour de France

Froome on guard after crushing victory

2015-07-15 09:55
Chris Froome (Getty Images)

Pau - Chris Froome says his Sky team will be on their guard despite him putting his rivals to the sword in the first mountains stage at the Tour de France.

Froome is almost three minutes clear of the rest after a stunning victory at the summit finish of La Pierre-Saint Martin on Tuesday in which he blitzed all his rivals.

Reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali is even down in 10th overall, almost seven minutes off the pace.
Australian teammate Richie Porte took second on the 10th stage from Tarbes while Geraint Thomas is up to fifth overall after a strong sixth-placed finish as Sky impressed.

Yet two years ago, when Froome won the Tour, he put in a similarly dashing performance to win the first summit finish at Ax 3 Domaines, but then found himself alone and exposed a day later.

Porte had finished second at Ax 3 Domaines that time too but 24 hours later he was unable to keep pace on a hilly stage from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre, with five categorised climbs, and Froome was left to fend for himself as Alberto Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team and the Movistar outfit of Nairo Quintana took turns to attack.

Wednesday's 11th and Thursday's 12th stages of this year's race have 10 categorised climbs between them, including two hours category and three first category ascents, making for a similar epilogue to Froome's Ax 3 Domaines win.

But the 30-year-old Briton says his team are wiser now.

"We've learnt our lessons from the past, we're definitely going to be on our guard now," he said.

"We did put in a lot of effort (on Tuesday) and we're going to have to gauge that over the next few days to see how much we've paid for that.

"But the guys showed in the team time-trial just how strong the team is.

"I hope not to see a repeat of that stage back in 2013, but this race is far from over that's for sure."

Just like back in 2013, Froome expects his rivals to attack him on descents or at surprising moments, rather than waiting for summit finishes in which he has often proved to be the strongest.

"It wouldn't be the first time, we're fully expecting that other teams are going to start racing like that," the Kenyan-born rider said.

"The other GC contenders are going to start taking things on in other parts of the race, the same as back in 2013, taking it on in crosswinds and descents.

"I think we can expect all of the above."

Froome is not counting his chickens just yet and says he expects Quintana to come on strong, particularly in the final week where there are many mountains to scale.

The Colombian was the strongest in the mountains in the third week when finishing second to Froome in 2013 and likewise he made up a 3min 30sec deficit on Rigoberto Uran to win the 2014 Giro d'Italia by the same margin last year thanks to a strong finish.

"I certainly wouldn't want to be in the position that some of my rivals are now. I wouldn't want to be making up those kind of time gaps but the Tour's not over; we've only done one mountain, there's a long way to go," added Froome.

"We've see that Nairo can be strong in the third week of Grand Tours and I certainly expect him to be up there pushing us up on the climbs."

Read more on:    tdf  |  chris froome  |  cycling

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