Chris Froome in heartfelt tribute to victims of Nice attacks after strengthening grip on yellow jersey
Published 15/07/2016 | 18:03
Chris Froome strengthened his grip on the yellow jersey on a sombre day at the Tour de France.
Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin won the stage 13 time trial from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont d'Arc while Froome set the second-best time to add another minute to his cushion over second place.
But Froome, a Monaco resident, had little interest in discussing the race, which took place in the wake of the terrorist attack which killed at least 84 people in Nice on Thursday night.
Although he attended the yellow jersey holder's customary press conference after the stage, the Briton took no questions and instead gave a short statement.
"I think it's pretty clear today everyone's thoughts are with those affected down in Nice," Froome said. "I think it's difficult for us to even be here talking about the race with all that happening yesterday down in Nice.
"It's somewhere pretty close to home for me, somewhere I do a lot of training, and to see the promenade the way it was yesterday evening with bodies over the road is horrific, horrific scenes.
"My deepest sympathy, my deepest condolences go out to those families who have lost loved ones in Nice."
Time trial specialist Dumoulin won with a time of 50 minutes and 15 seconds over the rolling 37.5km stage, with Froome one minute and three seconds off that pace.
But with Bauke Mollema the next best among the general classification contenders, Froome is considerably more comfortable in yellow going into the weekend.
Mollema moved up to second overall, displacing Briton Adam Yates, but is one minute 47 seconds behind Froome.
After the stage, Froome was joined on the podium by the other jersey holders - Yates in the young riders' white, Peter Sagan in the points leaders' green, and Thomas De Gendt in the king of the mountains' polka dots - as well as Dumoulin and several Tour officials to pay their respects to victims of the Nice attack.
Several children were among the dead after a terrorist drove a truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day along the Promenade des Anglais.
On Friday morning, Tour officials met with police, government, regional and security officials to discuss security arrangements, and Tour director Christian Prudhomme vowed the race would continue "in sobriety and with dignity".
"We wish today to be dignified, in tribute to the victims," Prudhomme said. "We are thinking about the families, we offer our condolences to everyone who has been affected, who has lost a loved one. To everyone who is injured, in flesh and in their being.
"We asked questions of ourselves, effectively. But we think, in agreement with the state authorities, that the race should continue, and we mustn't give in to pressure of people who want us to change our way of life."
Twenty four hours before he crossed the line here, Froome had been caught in a chaotic and bizarre end to stage 12 on Mont Ventoux where he crashed along with Mollema and former team-mate Richie Porte when a television motorbike was caught in huge crowds on the mountain.
After briefly racing up the mountain on foot before changing bikes, Froome lost almost two minutes - enough to cost him the yellow jersey - until the race jury intervened and he came out with an increased lead, 47 seconds over Yates.
It had not been known if Froome had suffered any injuries in the incident, but there was little sign of that as he turned in a strong Friday ride to increase his advantage.
Yates had expected to lose time on this stage and duly gave up almost two minutes to Froome, at least better than the four minutes he predicted.
Movistar's Nairo Quintana also lost out, slipping to two minutes and 59 seconds off yellow although the Colombian is still in fourth place.