Chris Froome was forced to ride on the defensive for much of the Giro d’Italia after his crash before the opening time trial in Jerusalem, but the Team Sky leader appeared to be back to his Grand Tour best on the fast climb to Prato Nevoso at the end of stage 18, gaining 28 seconds on race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Froome is targeting Domenico Pozzovivo’s podium place as his first goal, and the Italian for Bahrain-Merida is only 39 seconds ahead of him. But Froome appears to have found the inspiration for a possible audacious all-out attack on the maglia rosa in the final two mountain stages.
“If only I hadn’t crashed in Jerusalem,” Froome told Italian television after refusing to stop at the finish, again preferring to descend to the Team Sky bus and warm down before sharing his thoughts.
“I’m feeling better every day, but I need to pull back time. It was a good for me, but we’ve only done the first of thee consecutive mountain stages which will be very hard.”
Froome revealed that his late attack was premeditated. He sent teammate Wout Poel up the final climb to be there to help him in the finale. After going with Dumoulin’s first surge with two kilometres remaining, Froome then jumped around his rivals and surged away himself, helping to distance Yates. He was perhaps hoping to gain time on Pozzovivo. Little did he know that Yates would suffer and be unable to stay with them.
“I had no idea he was on the limit there. Only when I accelerated did I turn around to see Pozzovivo and Dumoulin with me and not Simon,” Froome explained.
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