Stressed Froome survives in yellow as Mollema wins stage

Doug Mendoza
July 17, 2017

Meanwhile, Mollema of The Netherlands picked up his first win Tour de France stage win with his pace-pushing ride.

When crosswinds started making the bunch nervous toward the end of the 203.5-kilometer stage from Eymet to Pau, the stress became palpable and led to several crashes at the back of the peloton.

"At this stage you can go insane about focussing on the top 10 and lose track of the process so I'm just trying to do the best bike race I can every day and see what naturally happens". There are two likely sprint finishes left and a possible third, all of which favor Kittel, so Matthews would have to score serious points on stages 16 and 17, with Kittel drawing nearly none, to really have any shot at taking the lead. Porte fractured a hip and a collarbone, while Martin, though hurt, was able to continue despite losing time on the leaders. "For a guy who's doing so well in the classics and capable of winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Lombardy, and Fleche Wallonne, which he hasn't yet (second in 2014 and 2017) but he will some day, I'm sure, to come here to the Tour and riding for GC, very few riders can say that", added Roche. "I just have to soak it up and to wait for better days".

After what were surely back to back moments of panic for the three-time Tour victor, Sky proved its collective prowess in handling critical situations within the GC battle as Froome regained contact.

"The race was in bits with Astana trying to control it", said the Briton. However, they will not prevent him from starting Thursday's stage.

"Froome is super", Frank said. "Everything was good on our side". As he made his move, the yellow jersey and Bardet's AG2R team-mates both looked at each other, giving him the margin he needed.

"This morning he was three minutes back so when someone's further away in the standings they're given more space (to get away)".

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Froome described the finish as "quite savage".

"But to do two Grand Tours a year - one of them fighting for GC and maybe the other one going for stages - I think that's something I would like to do in the next couple of years".

This year's race has shown that big time gaps over a single stage are nearly impossible to gain among the leaders, meaning they must seize every opportunity that comes along, no matter how small.

Froome also expects Contador to try and wreak havoc during Friday's shorter stage to Foix. Contador has already lost 5:15 overall, but could still ruin the Team Sky masterplan with some relentless attacks on his favorite ground.

"He's never shy to attack from far out. I always said Dan's capable of a top 10 initially, now I'd say he's capable of a podium", Roche told AFP.

George Bennett in action during stage 15 of the Tour de France.

Kittel's power in the bunch sprint could not be matched on Wednesday and the Quick-Step Floors rider easily beat Dylan Groenewegen and Edvald Boasson Hagen by half a bike's length, easing up well before the line as he extended his lead in the points classification. "The riders have lost their ability to race".

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