Chris Froome’s Tour de France victory will come thanks to Team Sky’s strength in numbers this year. Compared to his 2013 Tour victory, he could rely on more mountain support from his team-mates to carry him though the race in the leader’s yellow jersey.
Froome leads by 1-12 minutes over Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) after a defence on the Alpe d’Huez climb today. Barring any incident, he will win his second Tour title tomorrow on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
“It was just the team strength, and unity, I think we just had that strength in depth, when someone was on a bad day, there was someone who was always there,” Geraint Thomas said when arriving at the Alpe d’Huez ski resort.
“In 2013, it was mainly just Richie and him, but this year, some days it was me, some days it was Wout [Poels], today was Richie [Porte], and Leo [König] was consistent.”
Australian Richie Porte helped keep Froome close after Quintana attacked on the Alpe d’Huez climb. Yesterday to La Toussuire ski resort, Dutchman Poels carried the weight over the final kilometres before Froome rode in pursuit of Quintana.
Froome defended himself over the last two days, but lost part of his cushion to Quintana.
“He was probably feeling it,” Thomas added.
“He certainly didn’t try to empty the tank yesterday, he tried to just lose as little time without going too deep, he knew how tough today was. Maybe he wasn’t quite as strong as he had hoped, but he was definitely strong enough.”
Sky bounced back well as a team even if Froome was “feeling it”. Today, Froome had three or two when others like Quintana had only one helper.
Movistar whittled down Sky’s defence, leaving just Porte, but Quintana could not ride enough time into them.
“We knew what was coming, it was a bad day yesterday as a team,” Team Principal David Brailsford said.
“Today the lads were really geed-up for it and they weren’t going to throw that away today. Richie Porte, who has been really ill, bounced back so well and put in a fantastic shift.”
Tomorrow, Froome only has to defend over the flat stage from Paris’s suburbs into the centre on the Champs-Élysées to win the 2015 Tour.