COL DE PORTET, France (VN) — There won’t be a record-tying fifth yellow jersey Chris Froome. And he won’t be the first rider since Marco Pantani to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same season.
At least not this year.
Froome conceded Wednesday he won’t be winning the Tour and vowed to support Team Sky teammate Geraint Thomas all the way to Paris.
“It was a very intense day but I’ve got no regrets,” Froome said after stage 17. “‘G’ [Thomas] has ridden such an amazing race and he deserves to be in yellow — and, fingers crossed, he holds it now until Paris.”
Froome faltered 5km to go in Wednesday’s intense, three-climb 65km stage and lost time to key rivals on the Tour’s final summit finale. He crossed the line eighth at 1:35 behind stage winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and dipped to third overall at 2:31 back.
With Thomas clearly in charge and other rivals still within range of yellow, Froome said Sky will rally its formidable resources around Thomas.
“Thomas looks really strong so I imagine he’ll be able to finish it off,” Froome said. “We’ve just got to try and look after him now, these next few days.”
A weary Froome faded when Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) accelerated in the closing kilometers.
Instead of racing for his fourth consecutive grand tour, Froome will have a fight on his hands to finish on the final podium in Paris.
“I’m still going to try and fight for the podium and try and obviously keep G up there in yellow,” Froome said.
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Froome looked unbeatable coming into this Tour after completing the first modern double of winning the Tour and Vuelta a España. He backed it up with a stunning late-race Giro d’Italia victory in May.
Froome lost time with an opening stage crash and struggled to match the most explosive attacks in the Alps.
Though optimistic to the end, Froome said he simply couldn’t follow the pace as the GC favorites surged to the finish line Wednesday.
“I just didn’t have the legs in the final,” Froome said.
“I’ve won the last three grand tours I’ve done now, so it’s certainly been a tough build-up for me,” he continued. “That’s professional cycling. That’s what a team is all about. I’m happy just to be in this position.”
Froome vowed he would rally around Thomas in Sky’s bid to win the Tour in what would be the team’s sixth yellow jersey in seven years with three different riders.