Stressed Froome survives in yellow as Mollema wins stage

Ruben Hill
July 17, 2017

Again, Froome had teammates with him who aided in his ultimate return to the field.

Brailsford said: "I'm much happier if the Tour de France is not settled by time penalties".

Bennett finished 32nd, 6min 25sec behind Dutch stage victor Bauke Mollema, with several of his rivals finishing ahead of him. "I am very grateful for my teammates doing the work to help me".

"I don't think I'm sick or anything, I think I just picked up a cold and I think I can shake it in the rest day and be back into it on the Alps". I had no option.

"I always believed that I could maybe come back and do it again".

"Everybody was on their limit on the last two climbs". On the steepest part of the climb Froome had to call back Landa from the group of a dozen favourites to ensure he regained contact.

"I've worked for it so hard in the last few years, that was a big goal for me".

"It was a great outcome for us, Mikel Landa really put in an fantastic ride today and we wanted him to come back into the GC game", said the reigning champion. I can't blame them. There's no team like that on the Tour, they are happy with second place.

With Bardet being a local hero, roadside fans revelled in Froome's situation and reportedly jeered the Briton as he gave chase.

He has backed up well at the Tour, though with a different set of objectives, and is 24th overall at 34min 50sec behind Froome. But the French have been [going] so well [with] the stage wins and Bardet fighting for the win.

"I think you can do it successfully, but not for GC", White said.

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Calm Landa happy to save Froome

However, it was not just Froome's "great escape" that drove the compelling narrative. Second was Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE) at 19s, followed by Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) in third.

The tension among the top contenders for overall victory was personified by Irishman Dan Martin.

Under pressure: Chris Froome survived a tough day in the saddle.

Martin (Quick-Step Floors) was the first of the main overall contenders home in 25th place at 6m 11s to Mollema and in a group of four riders.

Froome took roughly 30 seconds to swap a back wheel shortly after Romain Bardet's AG2R La Mondiale team had put the defending champion in difficulty. Froome sits 18 seconds ahead of second-placed Fabio Aru. He owes his lead to staying in touch during a frantic 15th stage.

But real intent came from Martin who attacked Froome's group and then chased down the riders he finished with.

As a result, Martin gained 14 seconds on the race leaders and rose from sixth overall to fifth at 1m 12s. 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. "But I made it!"

"It was a stressful moment", Froome said.

I don't have a problem with any attacks that happen once the hammer is down towards the finish - that's racing. You get shepherded back in.

Truly, the outcome was only in doubt for about 20 minutes, the amount of time it took Federer to grab his first lead.

But by then AG2R's brown and blue cohorts were flagging too in the huge heat, and Froome - ignoring some boos from what appeared to be a few fans on the climb - could, at last, latch onto the back end of the group. "They are not [as] wary of me, but I am closer now".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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