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PEYRAGUDES, France (VN) — Domestique Chris Froome will exit this Tour de France with no regrets, even though he may be the strongest man in the race.
Froome delivered Sky captain Bradley Wiggins to the line at Peyragudes Thursday — and all but to the top of the podium in Paris — but he again established himself as Wiggins’ top threat in this Tour, even if the two ride for the same team.
In the final 3km of Thursday’s stage, Froome surged repeatedly and looked over his shoulder for Wiggins.
“That was perfect for us in the end there,” Froome said atop stage 17’s final climb. “I don’t have regret. I do my job to the best of my ability every day.”
Froome, 27, sits in second place on the general classification with only one decisive stage remaining, a 53.5km time trial on Saturday. The final GC ranks are nearly etched now, with Froome second, 2:05 back of Wiggins, and Liquigas-Cannondale’s Vincenzo Nibali third at 2:41 after losing 18 seconds on Thursday.
“Bradley rode a fantastic ride today,” Froome told a group of reporters at the finish. “We’ve achieved what we wanted. We wanted the yellow jersey on a Team Sky rider’s back. And we’ve got that. So, we’ve done exactly what we wanted.”
Froome recently told the French newspaper L’Equipe that riding this Tour in support of Wiggins was a great sacrifice and that he could win the race if he were not riding for Sky.
At Peyragudes, with this Tour nearly finished, Froome said that Wiggins was the best rider in the class, and that he would perform the role of domestique faithfully into the future.
“He’s much stronger in the time trial,” Froome said of Wiggins. “I did this job in the Vuelta (a España) also. … As long as that’s my job to do, then I’ll do that. If the team wants me to go for the win, I’ll do that, also.”
Asked how long he’d be content to work for Wiggins, Froome replied: “For as long as he wants to. For as long as the team wants to. That’s the way teams work.”
Froome also said he was satisfied to be in second place.
“I’ve been watching the Tour since I was a teenager. Just to be here and be in this position — it’s a dream come true. So, to be on the podium, that’s unbelievable to me.”