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Stage 15 Tour scare for Froome

Stage 15 Tour scare for Froome

The 2017 Tour de France general classification battle is the closest since 1951.

"I think I'm really, really grateful I've gone through yesterday", Froome told reporters on Monday, the second rest day of the three-week race.

"With the two back-to-back Alpine stages and the altitude finish, there could be some big gaps".

"It was a nervous day and I was caught in a crash", said Bardet, who is trying to become the first Frenchman to win the Tour since Bernard Hinault last managed the feat in 1985.

"It was a massive loss for the team because he is one of strongest guys". But the Team Sky leader recovered in style two days later, when Aru was trapped at the back of the peloton in Rodez.

"A front against Froome?"

Froome himself is not expecting it to be an easy battle in the days that remain.

"I'll ride them like two one-day classics". If Froome is in form, he will be untouchable.

Asked why his rivals did not capitalize on his misfortune, Froome said he felt they were more interested in getting rid of Movistar's Nairo Quintana, who cracked on the climb and went on to lose nearly four minutes.

"I certainly have my faith in the team", said Froome.

The Sunweb team rider sped into the finish in Foix, overlooked by its imposing 11th century castle decorated with a French tricolor of red, white and blue, as part of a four-man group that included Landa, two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador, and Nairo Quintana, a podium finisher at three previous Tours.

Froome has also showed great composure and calm when in trouble.

"I think Chris was strong because he was calm. Personally, if I was one of them, I would have gone flat out, no team mates left", the American said.

The race resumes on Tuesday with a stage sure to favour sprinters.

French rider Romain Bardet, the runner-up to Froome a year ago, limited his losses to five seconds.

The former Vuelta champion is paying the price for his Astana team's weaknesses. The Kazakhstan-funded team lost key member Jakob Fuglsang on Friday after he broke a wrist and elbow, and Aru had not enough teammates to help him stay at the front.

He will ride on his favorite terrain from Wednesday when the race enters the Alps. "It's going to be very aggressive racing I imagine". "So the Tour is still wide open". He hit the deck and slightly hurt his knee, but the AG2R La Mondiale rider was able to continue after changing bikes and did not lose any time.

"I never set objectives and I never set out my ambitions", he said. In Peyragudes, his lethal acceleration earned him the stage win.

"But there is a climb like the Izoard, with its last few kilometres at more than 2,000-metres (above sea level). I feel good, but I can not do anything to hurt his chances".

Twice a runner-up at the Giro, the Colombian from Cannondale-Drapac is now a serious contender for the overall win in France. "All I can do is my best and as long as that happens I'll be happy". He trails the Briton by 29 seconds overall.

An excellent climber with good downhill skills, Uran has taken advantage of the very mountainous route in 2017. He decided not to compete at this year's Giro to arrive in ideal shape at the Tour, a good strategy so far.


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