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Froome Expects Battle on Stage 5

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July 5, 2016 – Chris Froome is expecting the overall contenders to do battle on Wednesday’s fifth stage. The 31-year-old reigning Tour champion currently sits fifth on the overall standings, just 18sec behind yellow jersey wearer Peter Sagan. And while he doesn’t think an overall contender will win Wednesday’s 216km stage from Limoges to Le Lioren, he does believe that time gaps will appear between the top contenders. “It will be similar to stage two but harder, more selective.

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

There will probably be a few tired legs out there,” said the Sky team leader. “Even though these days have been relatively easy, they’ve still been 250km stages. “I think it’s a bit too early to see a real GC battle but it’s definitely somewhere where there will be time gaps — it won’t be a bunch sprint. “Maybe it’s a stage for someone like (Julian) Alaphilippe, (Alejandro) Valverde or Dan Martin.” With time bonuses on the line for the first three finishers, those last three could all take over the yellow jersey with victory.

Alaphilippe is second at 12sec from Sagan, Valverde third at 14sec with Martin, Froome and other top contenders at 18sec. Some people think the hilly finish will prove too much for Sagan to keep up with the specialist punchers — those riders who excel in hilly one-day classics. But following Tuesday’s fourth stage, Sagan himself said he hadn’t even looked at the stage profile yet for Wednesday. “I will try (to keep the yellow jersey), we’ll see,” he said, after admitting he had no idea what to expect.

Valverde said he wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to win a stage if the chance is there on Wednesday, but insisted that his main role is still to help Movistar leader Nairo Quintana — currently two places behind Froome but in the same time — win the overall title. “Already tomorrow (Wednesday) we’ll have the first difficult day in the mountains,” he said of the stage that will climb to more than 1.5km above sea-level with the Pas de Peyrol in the Massif Central region of France.

“I’d even say it’s dangerous, but for me the days we’ve already had were more so than Wednesday’s. “We’re here, we’re well placed and tomorrow it’s logical to think we can stay close to the leader. “But, let’s be clear: what will happen, will happen. If the chance (to win the stage) presents itself and I’m there, we won’t pass it up, but it’s not essential.” As for Quintana, he was happy not to lose time to Froome on the early flat stages, unlike last year when he gave up 1min 27sec in crosswinds on the second stage before eventually losing out on overall victory by just 1min 12sec.

He’s looking forward to the mountainous terrain, which begins in earnest on Friday when the race enters the Pyrenees. “We hope tomorrow everyone’s bodies in the team will react well,” said the 26-year-old Colombian. “The arrival in the mountains means we’re entering terrain that suits our characteristics. “It will be a fairly difficult day but we’ll tackle it with the hope that we’ll be in good shape, that we have a great team and that personally, I feel good.”