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LA CAVERNE DU PONT D’ARC, France (VN) — Chris Froome might have put a lock on a third yellow jersey following his strong ride in Friday’s time trial, but he was in no mood to talk about it.
A day after running up part of Mont Ventoux in Thursday’s chaos and an evening mourning terrorist attacks in Nice, a deeply affected Froome admitted it wasn’t easy to focus on the business at hand Friday.
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Sky’s leader put his emotions aside long enough to take more than two minutes out of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in a decisive time trial, but insisted it was inappropriate to talk about sport on such a horrific day for France. “It’s difficult to talk about today’s stage without keeping in mind of what’s happening in France right now,” Froome said. “It puts things in perspective on the race. It’s close to home to me. I do a lot of training down there.”
Froome lives close to Nice in nearby Monaco, and did not want to speak about the bike race. He was deeply touched by the images he watched overnight as 84 people were killed in Nice as they celebrated a fireworks show along the Promenade de Anglais, the popular seafront boulevard and traditional finishing straight at Paris-Nice.
“I’m happy with how it went on the bike, but the atmosphere here, and everyone’s thoughts here are with those affected down in Nice. It’s a special place for me, near to where I’m based, and I just can’t imagine what those people are going through down there,” he said. “I am very sad for France. We express our solidarity for the people of France.”
Even though Froome didn’t want to talk about it, his time trial altered the Tour GC in a dramatic way.
Dumoulin was unstoppable en route to winning his second stage in this Tour at 1:03 faster than Froome, but the Sky captain started last as the yellow jersey, and took major gains on his GC rivals, widening his lead on the yellow jersey to 1:47 over Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo). Arch-rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) lost 2:05 and Adam Yates (Orica – BikeExchange) lost 1:58, putting Froome in the driver’s seat going into the Tour’s final week.
Froome’s big gains Friday and his consistency so far in this Tour (not counting the chaos of Thursday) slot him into the pole position going into the final week of the Tour, the one they feared most. With nearly three minutes on Quintana, he will breath a little easier at night.