Wednesday 22 November 2017

'We have to get ready for war again' - Chris Froome wary of crosswinds as he retains yellow jersey

Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, on the finish line today. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, on the finish line today. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Ian Parker

Marcel Kittel won stage 10 of the Tour de France in Bergerac as Chris Froome stayed safe in the yellow jersey.

Quick-Step Floors' Kittel strengthened his grip on the green jersey as leader of the points classification by winning his fourth stage of the Tour, with fellow German John Degenkolb of Trek-Segafredo second and Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of LottoNL-Jumbo third.

Team Sky's Froome crossed the line safely in the pack, keeping the three-time Tour winner 18 seconds clear of Italian national champion Fabio Aru in the general classification.

Fortuneo-Oscaro's Dan McLay had looked strong in the finale but launched his sprint too soon and faded to finish seventh at the end of the 178 kilometre stage from Perigueux to Bergerac.

The race started at a strong pace as riders re-found their legs following Monday's rest day, but once a two-man breakaway - formed of Wanty-Groupe Gobert's Yoann Offredo and Fortuneo-Oscaro's Elie Gesbert - had gone clear, the peloton settled down for a gentle ride around the Dordogne.

The leading duo quickly built a lead of more than five minutes, but always knew their's was a doomed mission with the sprint teams eyeing their chance after two difficult days in the mountains, and with the Pyrenees looming later in the week.

The gap gradually began to fall, and the catch was made with seven kilometres to go as Offredo and Gesbert shook hands.

Team Sky led the peloton towards Bergerac in a bid to keep Froome safe before the sprint trains took over on the way into town.

Kittel did not have many team-mates left on the approach to the line and appeared a long way back, but he surfed the wheels and used McLay's attack to set up his victory.

"Maybe if it was a race where I didn't win a stage yet, maybe I would have panicked with the position I was in," Kittel said.

"I was waiting for someone to make a move because there were a few that were too far back. That was McLay today, I just held his wheel and then I could hit the front at the perfect moment."

It was a relatively relaxed day in yellow for Froome, who could be seen smiling and joking with team-mates out on the road.

Wednesday's stage from Eymet to Pau is another set up for the sprinters, although Froome knows the threat of crosswinds on the road south could mean a return to more stressful racing.

"Any talk of crosswinds gets the whole peloton quite nervous," Froome said. "Everyone starts fighting for positions at the front. We're going to have to get ready to go to war again."

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