Chris Froome has insisted that the winner of the 2021 Tour de France has already been decided.
As the race resumes following its second and final rest day, Tadej Pogačar of UAE-Team Emirates leads the race by by 5-18 from Rigoberto Urán of EF Education - Nippo.
Three consecutive mountain days in the Pyrenees, including back-to-back summit finishes, looks set to determine the direction of the final general classification ahead of Saturday's final time trial.
Froome, who has won the Tour four times since 2013, has been impressed with Pogačar's handling of the race and can't see how the Slovenian won't win his second yellow jersey.
"I’d say that if Pogačar can stay on his bike, the GC is over," Froome said. "He’s showed so much maturity. I think this one is in the bag for him."
Froome has been riding as road captain for Israel Start-Up Nation but suffered a hard fall on stage one and spent several hours in hospital.
He didn't suffer any breaks or fractures and was passed fit to race, and despite painfully battling through the days in the immediate aftermath of his fall, he has now recovered to a sufficient level that he is able to feel the benefits of the racing now.
"There's no doubt it's been rough on the body with the crash on day one," the 36-year-old told ITV before the start of stage 16.
"I've been trying to gather myself again after that. All in all, it's has been a really good experience being here.
"This racing alone will have helped me. I feel as if the accelerations in the bunch and being on the wheel are starting to feel a lot easier.
"And that's the thing I have been battling the most with this year.
"It's been a worthwhile experience up until this point being here.
"Hopefully this last week will bump me up even more."
Froome, who is expected to race the Vuelta a España in August, has been supporting his team-mates in the race, an unfamiliar role given his past successes.
His team leader Michael Woods was in the King of the Mountains jersey but now sits eight points adrift of the current leaders in the mountains classification, Wout Poels.
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