Froome avoids losing time in the final week as he has in previous Tours
Froome leads by 23 seconds from Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) in seconds and 29 seconds on Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac) in third, with just one final testing stage, a time trial in Marseille, to come.
His impressive performances over the last couple days have been the result of months of preparation, with Sky planning for Froome to end the race strongly and, though not confirmed yet, ride the wave to the Vuelta a España next month.
“I am happy I passed the Alps without any problem this year,” Froome said. “The Alps have always been really tough for me I have always tended to have a tough day in the Alps.”
“The plan has always been to come into this last week really strong. Thankfully, I felt better in these last two Alpine stages than in the Pyrenees.”
Watch: Tour de France stage 18 highlights
Up to the Tour de France, Froome had looked off his best for much of the season. He had not won coming in to the Tour and lost time to his rivals in the Pyrenean finish to Peyragudes.
He needed to be at his best because Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors) and Bardet today launched attacks on the race’s final summit finish to the Col d’Izoard.
“Ag2r set a massive pace coming to the climb. The team put us under a lot of pressure,” Froome said. “Ideally, I wanted to take a bit more time today and I did make a move in the final, but Rigoberto Urán and Romain Bardet were quick to react from behind. If Rigoberto hadn’t reacted as fast as he did, I might have got away with it.”
Froome should, according to past results, put more time into his rivals in the 22.5km time trial in Marseille on Saturday.
“If it is for the stage or the yellow jersey, I will do the maximum. I already saw the course, it is a very fast course and it is not far at 22.5km,” Froome said.
“It is still very close and still at this point, anything could happen. I wouldn’t say it is quite won yet, the toughest part of the Tour is behind us with Alps and Pyrenees done. It is still a close race but we are in a good position.”