Chris Froome (Sky) gave his 2015 Tour de France rivals plenty to think about on stage 10 of the race on Tuesday, taking a solo victory to extend his overall lead.
After Monday’s rest day, Froome took the opportunity to put minutes rather than seconds into his key rivals on the first mountain finish of the race on the hors categorie climb of La Pierre-Saint-Martin.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was the last of Froome’s rivals to cling onto his wheel, but the Colombian could not match Froome’s acceleration. To make matters worse, Quintana was caught by Froome’s team-mate Richie Porte in the final few hundred metres and had to settle for third place.
The biggest shock of the day was just how much time that pre-race favourites Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) conceded to Froome on the testing final ascent.
Contador dropped two minutes and 51 seconds, and Nibali a huge four minutes and 25 seconds in barely 10 kilometres. If the stage was an indicator of overall form, both riders will now face a tough battle to claw back time in the coming stages in the Pyrenees and Alps.
Froome now sits two minutes and 52 seconds ahead of Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) in the general classification, with Quintana moving up to third at three minutes and nine seconds.
Wednesday’s stage 11 features the two summits of Col d’Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet and an uphill finish to Cauterets, which could either serve as a place for Froome’s rivals to get back some time – or lose more.