Sky on a high after treacherous first week on Tour

The British rider, thought to be vulnerable on the flat, windswept and sometimes cobbled roads of the Netherlands, Belgium and northern France, is the overall leader and his best may still be to come.


“It’s been a fantastic week, we’re in a position where we don’t have time to gain over rivals on the team time trial (on Sunday),” Sky’s sports director Nicolas Portal told reporters after the seventh stage.

Froome, who crashed out of the race 12 months ago after winning the event in 2013, has a sizeable advantage over the other members of the so-called ‘Big Four’.

Spain’s Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), attempting a rare Giro d’Italia-Tour double, is seventh, 36 seconds off the pace.

Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) of Italy is 12th, 1:38 behind Froome, while Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) lies 16th, 1:56 adrift of the leader.

There will be a rest day after Sunday’s team time trial before the race then hits the Pyrenees.

“I think we’ve got a really strong team here especially on that parcours (route) for the team time trial, it’s very testing, I think we’re up for it,” Froome told a news conference.

“Quinta has lost a lot of time already, that’s quite a big blow for him, but I expect him to be up there in the mountains. Alberto Contador? The big question is how fresh is he after the Giro?

“Nibali? We’ll have to see how he is in the climbs but he’s been fine this first week.”

Froome is the only pre-race favourite who has not yet crashed.

American Tejay van Garderen, the BMC Racing rider who is third overall, 13 seconds off the pace, Nibali and Quintana were caught up in the accident that caused then-yellow jersey holder Tony Martin of Germany to break his collarbone.

Contador also hit the ground on Friday in the neutral zone.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)