Froome warns: I'm getting stronger

Chris Froome has sent an ominous message to the rivals bidding to snatch the Tour de France leader's yellow jersey off him, saying: "I'm getting stronger".

The Team Sky leader has a 12-second advantage over Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) after nine stages of the Tour, with his other major contenders trailing by at least one minute.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is 1m 3s back, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 1min 59secs adrift and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 2:22 behind.

Asked about his position ahead of today's first Pyrenees stage, Froome compared himself favourably to his condition in 2013, when he won the 100th Tour.

"This year I feel as if I've come in much fresher, a lot more mentally prepared and I feel as if I'm getting stronger in this year's race," he said.

Meanwhile, Former Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso withdrew from the Tour after revealing he has testicular cancer.

tour de france