After avoiding disaster, Froome ready to tackle Alps in close Tour

Tricia Pearson
July 17, 2017

Dutchman Bauke Mollema won the stage after a fearless solo break on a lumpy 190km stage from Laissac-Severac l'Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay.

The stage win went to Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) after he went clear of his breakaway companions.

Chris Froome has reached the final week of the 2017 Tour de France still in the lead but, once again, his grip on the race teetered on the edge of real trouble.

He started the day six seconds ahead of the three-time champion but, before yesterday's 15th stage, trailed Froome by 18 seconds after coming home 30th overall, 25sec behind stage 14 victor Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb.

Not feeling 100 per cent on stage 15, Bennett said the second rest day could not have come at a more ideal time.

Froome had needed a wheel change when the race was on approaching the Col de Peyra Taillade, and lost nearly a minute before spending eight kilometres chasing his way back to the group of main contenders.

But once again, as he had done past year, Briton Froome proved he has the panache to glean time wherever there's an opportunity to do so.

Matthews seized second straight victory for Team Sunweb after teammate Warren Barguil took the stage 13 at Foix.

"All the the guys helped me as much as they could, and I'm hugely grateful".

All in all I am just happy to have got through without any major losses.

"Everybody was on their limit on the last two climbs". Stage 17 and the ascent at Col du Galibier will begin the return to the Alps on Wednesday, before Stage 18 ends on the Col d'Izoard, marking the first time a Tour stage has finished on this climb, per Cycling Weekly.

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Expect Froome to maintain his lead in the GC ahead of the mountains.

He was then paced back to the group by team-mates Mikel Nieve and Mikel Landa of Spain. "I think it's great that the fans are getting so into it and involved".

"I am feeling better and better as the race goes on".

The day's big loser was Fabio Aru, the Astana leader, who cracked in the last 500 meters and relinquished the coveted tunic to the three-time champion.

Froome had lost the jersey to Aru in the opening Pyrenean stage, but normal service resumed on Saturday when he was the first of the overall favorites over the line.

"It's a attractive surprise today", said Froome, who lost his jersey after enduring a bad day on the road to the ski station of Peyragudes.

The collective strength of the Sky Team was on display Sunday when Froome was forced to change his rear wheel in the final 40 kilometers and got dropped.

The very next day he joined Alberto Contador in a breakaway and gained nearly two minutes on his own team leader by the finish, moving up to fifth overall, just over minute back.

It was a stressful moment.

"Kwiatkowski is sharp, super sharp, and I guarantee he'd have made the call and he did well", Brailsford said.

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