MURET, France (VN) — Sky looks to be on cruise control, but no one inside the bus is counting the yellow jersey just yet.
Nicolas Roche, one of Chris Froome’s key helpers in the transition stages, said nothing is won until the peloton hits Paris.
“The Tour is won in Paris, only when you cross the line on the Champs-Élysées,” Roche told VeloNews ahead of Friday’s 13th stage. “We have to stay focused. We cannot say we’ve won this Tour, it wouldn’t be right.”
Froome rolled out of three climbing stages in the Pyrénées in enviable position, with a stage win and an ever-tightening grip on the yellow jersey, and a strong team to protect his flanks.
According to Roche, Sky had quiet confidence that Froome would be up to the task in the climbs. It was the first week they were more worried about.
“For us, the main stress was getting through those first 10 days, through that team time trial. We protected Chris, and we even gained time,” Roche said. “We have faith in Chris. We knew that he would be up to the level on those Pyrenean climbs.”
As the Tour leaves the Pyrénées in the rearview mirror, the course tackles three transition stages ahead of the Tour’s next rest day, and the decisive final battle in the Alps.
Froome, who leads ever-steady Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) by 2:52, said he’s looking forward to some transition stages after three intense days in the Pyrénées.
“There’s still a lot of racing to come,” Froome said. “I’m pleased with where my legs are at the moment, and I’m looking forward to a flat stage today.”
Anticipation is already growing for the final showdown in the Alps, but Roche cautioned that it would be a mistake to overlook the next trio of stages. Teams such as Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo squad could be expected to try to attack on the flats and descents in hopes of catching out Froome.
“The Tour is 21 days, and anything can happen in any one of those days, otherwise the race would be two weeks long,” Roche said. “Because we knew Chris would be climbing so well, the team has been able to ride differently. We can let breakaways go away, we don’t have to chase down everything.”