The Tour de France rivals need to place their team-mates in the early move and attack Chris Froome to see if he shows any weakness, then attack again. The experts agree it is possible, but difficult to accomplish.
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“It’s hard to say,” Yates said. “They’re looking pretty strong already, they’ve shown when it does come to down to him, if Sky are put under pressure, that Froome seems to go off the front anyway and do his own thing. It’s still a hard week to go so I’m sure someone will try something.”
Today, the Tour climbs up the Grand Colombier twice before finishing in Culoz. After the Jura Mountain stage, the race heads for its finale in the Alps.
“GC teams can send rider in the break and then attack,” Mollema said. “Today is one of those days that’s possible. The stage goes up and down all day.
“He’s been strong so far, but maybe he can also have a bad day. On Mont Ventoux, I was with him on the climb. A weak point? In the Vuelta he showed it [in 2012].”
Mollema rode clear with Froome on the Mont Ventoux on Thursday. General Manager at team Trek-Segafredo, Luca Guercilena explained that teams to isolate Froome and then attack him to stop him from winning his third Tour.
“It’s hard to do it,” Guercilena explained. “This year, he’s not had a clear weak point in one of the stages.
“You have to attack, you can’t just wait in his slipstream to see if he’ll be in trouble. Our motto is ‘try or die’, we have to at least try. You can only understand if he’s in trouble if you try to attack. Clearly, though, you need more than one rider, two or three.
“The only way to upset them is if team Movistar does it, they have a strong team that can work in the climbs,” Astana team manager Giuseppe Martinelli explained. “Someone has to truly attack from far out.
“It’s hard to put Froome in a hard spot. This year, for sure, he’s changed the way he’s racing. He wasn’t able to make the difference on Mont Ventoux. Who knows what he would’ve done in the last kilometre, but I saw beforehand that Richie Porte responded right away and Mollema caught him. That’s the first time that I saw riders re-join Froome.”
Most fans expect Quintana to upset Froome since he came the closest before, placing second to Froome in his first Tour in 2013 and second again in 2015.
“We are going to try until the last day, we’ll still have a chance,” Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzué said. “For sure, he and his team are both strong. To upset him is very difficult, but he’s not the same as he has been in past years on the climbs. His team is keeping him up there. His force comes from his team-mates. We are going to try [to isolate him].”