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Ten years ago, almost to the day, Chris Froome stormed to his maiden Tour de France stage win atop La Planche des Belles Filles. That day the Team Sky super domestique pushed clear of a fading Cadel Evans and eventual Tour winner Bradley Wiggins to take the honors and his team’s first victory in the high mountains.
So much time has passed since that win, and so much has changed in the career of Chris Froome, and while Friday’s stage is almost entirely identical to the one raced in 2012, Froome’s standing in the race is significantly different.
A decade ago the British climber was designated as Wiggins’ foil in the mountains and the pair would go on to finish 1-2 in Paris. After four outright overall wins, and a career threatening crash in 2019, Froome now finds himself back in domestique duties but with his role massively scaled back. It’s fair to say that he won’t be among the favorites when the race explodes on the final ascent.
“Ten years ago yesterday was the first time I won a Tour de France stage back in 2012,” Froome said ahead of Friday’s all-important stage 7.
“There are some pretty cool memories and emotions from that stage. Today they’ve added a kilometer more and a bit more gravel up top, with a little bit of a sting in the tail there, as if it wasn’t enough beforehand. I’m looking forward to it, and it should be an exciting day out there.”
Froome’s Israel-Premier Tech came into this race with no real aspirations of mounting a GC challenge. The squad was put together with stage wins in mind and they achieved a first win on stage 5 when Simon Clarke took a surprise win on the cobbles.
In Jakob Fuglsang and Michael Woods the team has two more contenders for the mountains but Froome admitted that his role at this point in the race was to offer support and shepherd his teammates throughout the stage for as long as possible.
“Personally I’m not going to be going in a breakaway today,” he told the media when asked if he would try and relive his 2012 days.
“I’m going to be sitting tight with Jakob Fuglsang. I’m still coughing up a bit of dust in my lungs from the pavé a couple of days ago. I’ll see how I feel out there and give it 100 percent.”