Tour de France 2016: Stage 18 – Froome extends lead with second stage victory

It was #VaVaVroom all the way today as race leader Chris Froome put further time into his rivals to extend his advantage and take his second stage victory. He pipped long-time holder of the hot seat Tom Dumoulin by 21 seconds, with surprise package Fabio Aru rounding out the podium 33 seconds back.

Rider of the Race

There were some impressive rides on today’s taxing uphill time-trial but I’m going with the winner of the “the race of truth,” none other than the race leader, Chris Froome who took his second stage win in the Tour today in seriously imperious fashion.

Cycling Weekly‘s Dr Hutch said:

The 17km individual test between Sallanches and Megeve requires a rider with the technical and pacing ability of a time-triallist, combined with the physiology of a climber…and if that’s not Chris Froome I don’t know who is. He’ll love it.

Froome was one of the few riders to opt for a full TT set up, and the only one with an O’Symmetric oval chainring, with which he demonstrated a masterful show of pacing, getting quicker through each intermediate split to clock a winning time of 30:43. More significantly,  it meant Froome put even more time into his GC rivals, pushing his advantage out to 3:52.

Post-race, Froome confirmed:

I really didn’t expect to beat Tom [Dumoulin] today. Pacing was key. I really started off quite steady and controlled that first part, and then just gave it everything I had over the top and the last part. I’m really, really happy with that.

No word from Froome on whether he loved the stage but when quizzed about his music choice while warming up, he revealed that he listened to a wide range of music, including classical. I wonder if that included some stirring Wagner and the toe-tapping “Happy” by Pharrell Williams?

Froome firmly in front

“It’s all to play for in the climbing time trial tomorrow,” said Midge in yesterday’s review. And, with two places on the podium still in play, frankly we were all hoping for a bit more excitement but it merely confirmed our fears. The maillot jaune is Froome’s to lose. While it’s not over until the fat lady sings in Paris, a number of notable pundits, including L’Equipe, were saying otherwise even before today’s stage.

Plus ça change!

While Froome has further distanced the rest of the field, today saw Aru and Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) each move up one place on general classification while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) slipped a spot. Elsewhere, advantages have narrowed most notably between those vying for the two remaining spots on the podium. If we look at those whose star seems to be in the ascendancy in the back end of the Tour, Porte is only 3 seconds behind Romain Bardet and both are closing in on a frankly out-of-sorts Nairo Quintana (Movistar). For his part, Quintana is within sniffing distance of the podium. Add to that, third placed, and best young rider, Adam Yates (Orica-Bike-Exchange) looks less vulnerable than second placed Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). It could be an interesting couple of days in the Alps.

Holy Trinity

Three former world champions, Jan Janssen (1964), Eddy Merckx (amateur 1964), and Bernard Hinault (1980), who all won their stripes in today’s start town of Sallanches, took part in a short commemorative ceremony on the start ramp before the first rider rolled away.

Stage results

1 Chris Froome (Sky) 30:43

2 Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) +0:21

3 Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:33

4 Richie Porte (BMC) same time

5 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:42

GC top 5

1 Chris Froome (Sky) 77:55:53

2 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +3:52

3 Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) +4:16

4 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +4:37

5 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +4:57

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey: Chris Froome (Sky)

Points jersey: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)

KOM jersey: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)

Best Young Rider: Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange)

For full stage review: Cycling News

Header image: Chris Froome  Sky Website

2 thoughts on “Tour de France 2016: Stage 18 – Froome extends lead with second stage victory

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