Chris Froome dominated the Tour de France's first mountain day today in Ax 3 Domaines to win and to take the leader's yellow jersey. His team-mate, Richie Porte was the only one able to stay close and moved into second overall.
"To have the yellow jersey now is really amazing," Froome said in a press conference. "I've been in a few leaders' jerseys this year, but nothing compares to the Tour de France."
The Brit leads the race by 51 seconds to Porte. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) sits nearly twice as far back at 1-25 minutes in third overall.
Belkin's Bauke Mollema and Laurens Ten Dam are fourth and fifth overall.
Multiple Grand Tour winner, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) lost ground with Froome's attack at 5.1 kilometres out. He crossed the line 1-45 minutes behind, which puts him in seventh at 1-51.
"I am a little surprised, I didn't just expect Alberto [to follow], but a lot of the GC contenders to be more prevalent the final," Froome added. "Having said that, I know that myself and Richie are in good condition. We've been training for months to be in this position."
So impressive was the ride by Froome, Porte and the entire Sky team that questions were raised.
"That's an unfortunate position that we find ourselves in at this moment, that eyebrows raise," Froome said.
"It's normal that people ask questions in cycling given the history of the sport... The questions should be asked about those people that won races five to 10 years ago, when doping was more prevalent. For me it is a personal mission to show the sport's changed. I know that my results won't be stripped 10 to 20 years down the line."
Froome's gains came to a time trial-like ride up the 7.8 Ax 3 Domaines climb. He attacked at 5.1 kilometres, passed Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and finished 51 seconds ahead of Porte.
"Once Kennaugh pulled off with four to five kilometres to go, I knew I had to almost go into TT mode to take as big as advantage as possible, to take as much time as possible. Every second counts at the moment. I'm sure we will get a lot coming up against us in the next two weeks," Froome said.
He added that he drew on experience for his attack.
"On a stage like that you can have a plan, but so much has to come from experience and feel about how the stage is unfolding. That's where I made that call. About four to five kilometres out, when I looked back and saw the others guys were struggling, I just thought that this is the right moment to push on and get a bit of time."
He pushed on and won the stage to take the yellow jersey with two weeks remaining. He expects to defend it tomorrow and add time to his lead in Wednesday's time trial.
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