Tour de France

Rivals getting desperate - Froome

2015-07-23 07:53
British cyclist Chris Froome has won the Tour of Andalucia. (AFP)

Pra-Loup - Chris Froome says his Tour de France rivals have an "all or nothing" mentality as the finish line in Paris approaches.

There are four stages left in the Tour, although the final ride to the Champs Elysees is normally nothing more than a procession.

Therefore, Froome must merely survive three more days in the Alps to earn his second Tour crown.

And with opportunities running out, the 30-year-old feels his rivals are getting desperate.

"It definitely feels as if a few of my rivals have got that all or nothing mentality at the moment and they're going to put everything on the line," said the Kenyan-born Briton.

"You even see some of the general classification riders attacking in the first 50-60km of the race."

One such to do so was second-placed Nairo Quintana, who attacked not only early into the 161km 17th stage from Digne-les-Bains to Pra Loup, but again on the colossal Col d'Allos climb and twice on the final ascent to the finish.

"There's got to be an element of desperation about that, although he's still feeling good," said Froome.

"There's also an element of running out of opportunities. There are only three more stages to race. They're tough stages but I've got to say I'm surprised to see him jumping around 50-60km into the race."

It wasn't just Quintana as Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali both attacked Froome at various points, although the former lost more than two minutes after crashing on the final descent.

Quintana failed to gain any time on Froome and remains second at 3:10, but his Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde is up to third at 4:09.

That was due to American Tejay Van Garderen, who started the day third, quitting the race halfway through the stage because of illness.

Although Quintana didn't manage to hurt Froome, he said the team is closing in on its other objectives.

"It was a positive day, we distanced several rivals, although they're still quite close by," said the diminutive Colombian.

"We also took a very important step towards securing the team title... and to get Alejandro Valverde on the podium.

"The next stages are more favourable for us - with bigger mountains and tougher finishes - to keep attacking Froome."

Valverde admitted it won't be easy to beat Froome but said they will keep trying.

"There's not much left in the Tour, but there's still a lot to come. For sure, I feel good, as I've shown working for my team-mate Nairo," said the 35-year-old Spaniard.

"I tried everything for him but Froome is very strong and it's difficult."

Contador explained that after his crash he had to change bikes twice, further compromising his race.

"I fell, the bicycle got away from me and I broke the back wheel," said the 32-year-old twice former winner.

"We tried to fix it but as (team-mate Peter) Sagan was close by, we swapped bikes and he gave me his.

"At the bottom of the mountain I changed bikes to do the final climb on one of mine.

"That way I tried to minimise the losses - it wasn't a good day."

Reigning champion Nibali, who had a disaster in the Pyrenees a week ago, has been fighting his way back up the standings and now sits seventh.

"I feel very good, I didn't get caught out by the rest, as happened to me in the first Pyrenean stage, and I managed to climb up the standings," said the 30-year-old Italian.

Read more on:    tdf 2015  |  chris froome  |  cycling


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