Tour de France riders set off for grueling Alpine stage

Tour de France riders set off for grueling Alpine stage

Tour de France riders set off for grueling Alpine stage

They reached the foot of the penultimate ascent, a 13km climb to the Col de la Forclaz at an average gradient of 7.9 per cent, with a 13-minute advantage. "I thought Quintana was the one who was going to go, so I sat on his wheel", he added.

"I don't agree", he said when asked about the l'Equipe headline.

"I don't think it was really possible to go much faster there".

"It was a good day". I had no objective for the first two weeks, just to help the team when I could, like bringing up water bottles or helping Alexander Kristoff. After the collective attempt by Astana of Italian Fabio Aru to set tempo and crack the Sky "train" that has controlled the Tour so well failed, Valverde and Irishman Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) attacked separately. both reeled in by Froome's teammates. "So we'll just take it day by day". But either way there is going to be drama as the Tour enters the final stretch. His overall tally of stage wins is now 30, second only to Eddy Merckx's 34.

Froome himself has come under intense suspicion over the last three years since winning his first of two Tour titles in 2013, with many convinced he did not do so clean.

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Porte insisted he wasn't interested in what Froome was up to, he was simply riding his own race, with his own objectives in mind. Van Garderen, on the other hand, was out the back.

After bridging up to Rafal Majka and Jarlinson Pantano at the base of the day's final haul to Finhaut-Emosson, Zakarin forged clear alone with six kilometres remaining to solo to stage victory.

On the steep ramps leading to the line, Quintana, Yates and Mollema were unable to respond, and Froome accelerated. Van Garderen was out the back once more.

After his struggles today, Mollema is now just 26 seconds ahead of Yates in the standings. The early time he lost due to his puncture skewed the results of how he was proving to the be the superior rider on the team. Obviously the time-trial is quite important. However, when van Garderen was dropped on the Lacets du Colombier on stage 15 into Culoz, the writing was on the wall.

"With 5km to go I was on the limit", van Garderen said of the moment he was dropped on the Col de la Forclaz on Wednesday.

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Yates, now third in the standings and in possession of the white jersey, said: "Why not?" "I have to anyhow". "But my team was incredible, they did an unbelievable job and I was able to stay with the best".

Froome, however, hasn't convinced everyone and was even jeered when he collected the race leader's yellow jersey following a controversial finish to the 12th stage on Mont Ventoux. It was a good time to get a gap like that. "I did the best I could".

"I'm in good condition and it is a hard four-day block coming up after the rest day", said Tasmanian Porte, 31.

"To say I've won and I don't have any rivals, that's rubbish". Form's a amusing thing. I didn't need to pull. A podium finish in Paris would, perhaps, erase the pain of his ill-timed Stage 2 puncture.

Porte has stamped his authority as team leader of BMC Racing and will shoot for the podium in the final days of the race, will the full backing of his BMC team.

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