Team Sky’s lead directeur sportif Nicolas Portal says that he’s very much relieved that Chris Froome came away losing just 43 seconds to Tom Dumoulin on stage 19 of the Tour de France and so remains a podium contender. Portal hopes that Froome’s travails on the Col du Portet were a one-off, a un jour sans but Team Sky is concerned about the final mountain and time trial stages.
Froome slipped down a podium spot to third after struggling in the final three kilometres of the stage and now sits 32 seconds behind Dumoulin in the overall classification. Teammate Geraint Thomas strengthened his overall. He is 1:59 ahead of Dumoulin and 2:31 ahead of Froome, who conceded team leadership to Thomas.
Portal hinted that the challenges of winning the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same season might have played its part in Froome’s difficult day.
“It could have been horrible and I’m a bit relieved. It’s not nice for Chris, he lost his second place. It’s not a lot and I think that the guys raced really well. What can you do? It wasn’t about strategy, if you’ve got the legs you deserve your spot,” Portal told Cyclingnews. “It just seems like he was on the limit.”
“He’s had a really hard season and the way he won the Giro was unbelievable. I don’t think anyone else could win like he did, be at this level at the Tour and be competitive and only lose a few seconds on this stage.”
Prior to cracking, Froome had followed an attack from Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) with 13 kilometres to go. The attack didn’t last long with Dumoulin pulling the pair back and when Roglic went again 10 kilometres later, Froome went in the opposite direction. Portal believes that Froome would likely have cracked whether or not he had gone with Roglic, and says his move was a bid to gain time on Dumoulin.
Tough days to come
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