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ISEO, Italy (VN) — Chris Froome is not racing for fourth overall in the Giro d’Italia, but with the same mentality that won him four editions of the Tour de France. The idea is to crack race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and take the spiral trophy in Rome.
With four days remaining, three summit finishes in the mountains, Sky’s Froome sits fourth at 3:50 minutes behind fellow Brit Yates. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) trails in second at 56 seconds and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) rides in third overall at 3:11.
“For Froome, the podium is not bad, but as a bike rider, you hope and if it happens, you need to be ready,” Nicolas Portal, Sky sports director told VeloNews.
“We are not hoping that [he will crack], but if he does, you need to be ready. We know how it happens: guys are there, sending men in the move up the road. We’ve been in that place. We know, though, when someone is that strong it’s hard to break him.”
Froome won four editions of the Tour de France, but so far Giro d’Italia he has been on the back foot due to two crashes. He lost time early on but rebounded with the Monte Zoncolan stage win. The next day to Sappada when Yates won for the third time in the pink jersey, Froome slipped back again but showed to be steadily on the rise with fifth place in the stage 16 time trial.
Team Sky’s star also knows what it is like to be in the lead of a grand tour, to have all eyes on you, hoping you will crack. Perhaps, more than anyone within striking range, he and Team Sky know the code to crack the safe protecting the pink jersey lead.
“To be fair, it would be hard to drop Simon. He’s on top of his game,” Portal continued.
“All of us have been very impressed how he won the stage to Sappada. Winning on top of the mountain is already special, but doing what he did is like an old-school bike racer. All the GC guys, Froome was far back and he said, ‘ciao.’ It was nice to see actually, just a strong old-school attack.
“To crack Yates? You need to have the legs obviously. The only way is probably to isolate him in the valleys. He doesn’t need teammates on the climbs. Some of the guys maybe will be happy to save second or third and don’t want to take the risks. You need to have that same mentality as the GC rider: full on, accepting that someone is going to lose his place, but someone else may win the GC. It can happen.”
Stage 18 Thursday rides through the Po Valley, into Piedmont, and up the 13.9-kilometer climb to Prato Nevoso for its finish. Stefano Garzelli last won at the ski station in 2000. The turn to attack will be Froome’s or the other grand tour rivals.
“It’s not up to me to attack and be aggressive,” Yates said.
“I have to do nothing. I will watch Tom and any other GC guys. It will be difficult. I will be careful, and I will ride defensively.”
“The most important thing for the next couple of days is to stay consistent, when we are ready, you go, but if you blow it all, then you are out of the GC and lose everything,” added Portal.
“It’s going to be a mental and physical game. The day of Finestre is going to be the first time in the Giro with proper mountains back to back. Fourty minutes of climbing, down, 40 minutes again up and down. That will be a proper stage for the climbers. There will be something to do there.”