Team Sky may be trying to become the first team since 1970 to hold the yellow jersey from the beginning to the end of a Tour de France, but the team’s domestiques are unconcerned by the task ahead of them after having enjoyed an easy first week.
“For us it’s been the easiest start to a Grand Tour in, well, ever,” was Luke Rowe‘s assessment ahead Friday’s seventh stage from Troyes to Nuits-Saint-Georges.
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“We haven’t had to do anything in the first week. We haven’t had to control the jersey and if we lose the jersey in the coming days, we’re genuinely not that concerned as long as it’s not to a GC rival. If it’s to a breakaway then that’s fine.”
While Rowe will be charged with looking after Chris Froome‘s yellow jersey on flat stages and early in mountain stages, Geraint Thomas, who currently sits second on GC, will be expected to be one of his team leaders key domestiques late into mountain stages.
With the sprinters teams having taken responsibility for controlling the race on the flat stages, and BMC Racing having worked on the front to bring the breakaway back for the summit finish to La Planche des Belle Filles, Thomas has also enjoyed an easy race so far.
“I haven’t had to work on the front yet! It’s worked out fine so far. We’re trying to race smart and not to do too much,” Thomas said.
He also said that he didn’t expect BMC Racing to work quite as much on the front in the weekend’s mountain stages as they did on the road to La Planche des Belle Filles.
“I don’t think they will [use the same tactics again],” Thomas continued. “Because we weren’t too bothered about bringing that break back they might not be too keen to give us a hand now.”
Despite the easy start to the race, the team are still prepared for attacks on the mountain stages to Station des Rousses and Champery on Saturday and Sunday.
“We’re staying focused and preparing for the worst,” said Michal Kwiatkowski, who led Froome and Thomas through the first couple of kilometres of stage five’s summit finish and said that he is “mentally prepared” for more hard work in the mountains to come.
“The morale is great and there’s optimism in the team. We were ready to take the jersey from the first stage and now the yellow jersey is with Chris we’re ready to defend it to Paris.”