Chris Froome's Tour de France rivals holding slim hope of taking lead in Alps

Chris Froome, Tour de France 2013, stage 12

Chris Froome (Sky) leads the Tour de France by minutes and shows no sign of letting up - a troubling thought for his rivals on the second rest day in Provence.

After two weeks, he stands four-plus minutes ahead of his rivals. In the two summit finishes and the time trial, he gobbled up time. With more of the same type of stages on the horizon, Froome appears unbeatable.

Tomorrow morning in Vaison-la-Romaine, his opponents will put a smile on their faces for the final push to Paris. However, podium spots - meaning second and third - appear to be the only remaining places left to stand on the Champs-Élysées this Sunday.

"That is sport. You do everything you can to prepare. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't," Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) said on top of Mont Ventoux yesterday.

"I have to forget it and try to recover as best I can for the final week. I still want to get some sort of results, but to win, I have no chance."

Evans lost time in the first mountain stage to Ax 3 Domaines. He sits in 16th place at 15 minutes back.

Froome's closest rivals are Bauke Mollema (Belkin) in second at 4-14 minutes, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff, 3rd, 4-25), Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff, 4th, 4-28), Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin, 5th, 4-54) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar, 6th, 5-47).

Unlike Evans, who won the Tour and placed twice on the podium before, Dutchman Mollema would consider a podium spot his best result to date. His fight is not to over-take Froome, though that would not be bad, but to defend his current position.

"After Friday's stage, I thought I could go for the yellow jersey, but that dream was after Mont Ventoux. Froome is by far the strongest climber and rider," Mollema told Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf. "Now, it's going be very difficult to grab the yellow jersey; over four minutes difference is a lot if time."

Contador, who has two Tour titles under his belt, suffered a blow yesterday. His 1-40-minute loss ended his hopes.

"I came to this Tour to win, but Chris Froome is too strong," he said. "Froome is superior to everyone else in the mountains. He showed it in the Pyrénées, and he showed it again [up Mont Ventoux]."

He explained in a press release today that he is unconcerned with second through tenth and that an upset, derailing Sky and Froome, remains his only option.

"If I see an opportunity," he added. "I'll take it. I'll try."

When Omega Pharma and Saxo-Tinkoff eliminated Alejandro Valverde on Friday, Quintana became team Movistar's focus. The Colombian established his limits, however, after Froome rode away from him in the final of Mont Ventoux.

"The main goal is keeping up as long as possible," he said in a team statement today. "Winning is certainly difficult: Froome is really strong, and even though his team is not as solid."

Tour de France 2013: Latest news

Rest Day Review (July 15)

Froome tackles doping questions at Sky press conference

Aero dilemma ahead of Wednesday's Tour time trial

Froome suffers to take the win on Mont Ventoux

Ventoux promises to shake up general classification

Would Sky be better with Sean Yates as DS?

Trentin: From lead-out man to Tour stage winner

Saxo-Tinkoff spring a surprise on Chris Froome on stage 13

Omega Pharma puts Kittel on back foot

Froome: Time loss is reminder that Tour is still open

Bauke Mollema having ride of his life at Tour

Boasson Hagen out of Tour with fractured shoulder

Cavendish 'beaten by a better guy' in Tours

Argos manager praises Kittel after 'queen sprint' stage

Brian Holm defends Cavendish after urine drama

FDJ trainer: Chris Froome's performance looks legitimate

Tour de France bike: Tony Martin's Specialized Shiv

Thibaut Pinot: Heaven and Hell at the Tour

Lessons learnt by Team Sky after visit to Pyrenees

Tour de France 2013: Teams, riders, start list

Tour de France 2013 start list

Tour de France 2013 team tracker - squad rosters as they are announced

Tour de France 2013: Stage reports

Stage 15: Froome wins on Mont Ventoux to extend lead

Stage 14: Trentin wins from break

Stage 13: Cavendish wins, Valverde loses on stage 13

Stage 12: Kittel out-sprints Cavendish

Stage 11: Martin wins time trial as Froome extends lead

Stage 10: Kittel takes second stage win

Stage nine: Martin wins stage as Froome fights to keep lead

Stage eight: Froome wins Tour mountains stage to take overall lead

Stage seven: Sagan scores first win of 2013 Tour

Stage six: Greipel wins as Impey moves into lead

Stage five: Cavendish wins; Gerrans keeps lead

Stage four: Orica win Tour's team time trial to put Gerrans in yellow

Stage three: Gerrans outpaces Sagan to take win

Stage two: Millar denied yellow as Bakelants takes spoils

Stage one: Kittel wins chaotic opening stage

Tour de France 2013: Podcasts

Podcast 12 (stage 15)

Podcast 11 (Stage 14)

Podcast 10 (stage 13)

Podcast nine (stage 12)

Pedcast eight (stage 11)

Podcast seven (stage 10)

Podcast six (stage nine)

Podcast five (stage eight)

Podcast four (stage six)

Podcast three (stage five)

Podcast two (stage four)

Podcast one (stage one)

Tour de France 2013: Comment, analysis, blogs

Moto blog part one (July 9)

Lessons learnt by Team Sky after Tour visits Pyrenees

Was Sunday (stage nine) a missed opportunity for Froome's rivals?

Rest day review (July 8)

Tour de France: 100 Tours, 1,000 stories

Tour de France 2013: Photo galleries

Stage 15 by Graham Watson

Stage 14 by Graham Watson

Stage 13 by Graham Watson

Stage 12 by Graham Watson

Stage 11 by Graham Watson

Stage 10 by Graham Watson

Stage nine by Andy Jones

Stage nine by Graham Watson

Stage eight by Andy Jones

Stage eight by Graham Watson

Stage seven by Andy Jones

Stage seven by Graham Watson

Stage six by Andy Jones

Stage six by Graham Watson

Stage five by Andy Jones

Stage five by Graham Watson

Stage four by Andy Jones

Stage four by Graham Watson

Stage three by Graham Watson

Stage two by Graham Watson

Stage one by Graham Watson

Team presentation by Graham Watson


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