Chris Froome ‘happy’ to sacrifice fifth Tour de France title for Geraint Thomas

first_img Support The Guardian Abuse of Team Sky will continue all the way to Paris, warns Brailsford Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. news Cycling Chris Froome Geraint Thomas Tour de France Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Reuse this content “It’s going to be war out there,” said Geraint Thomas, and for once those words sounded more like prophecy than hyperbole. As this year’s Tour de France heads into the Pyrenees, the Welshman knows there will be rapier thrusts from desperados on the road and raging hostility towards Team Sky off it. Yet, surprisingly, the biggest threat to his chances of a first Tour victory appeared to offer a pipe of peace during Monday’s rest day in Carcassonne.It came when Chris Froome was asked whether he would be prepared to help Thomas win the Tour if necessary. Instead of soft-handedly batting the question back, he replied: “As long as there’s a Team Sky rider on the top step in Paris I’m happy.”There was a gasp. And when pressed further about whether he would sacrifice his ambitions of a record-equalling fifth Tour win, Froome nodded his head and offered just one word. “Yes.”Admittedly we have not crossed that bridge yet, although we are certainly getting closer. Froome, who sits 1min 39sec behind Thomas in second, still believes he can win a fourth straight grand tour – a feat only Eddy Merckx has achieved – but there are only six days, and four realistic opportunities, to flip the placings.However, those wanting to back Thomas at bookies’ odds of 10-11, which suggests he has a touch higher than 50% chance of triumph, will be wary of his grand tour record. He has never finished higher than 15th in a three‑week tour and has a persistent reputation for always having one “bad” day. Could history repeat itself?There are certainly plenty of opportunities in the Pyrenees, starting with Tuesday’s 218km 16th stage from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon, which begins relatively sedately but contains a spiteful finale with two category one climbs before a 10km descent to the finish.Then comes one of the more intriguing stages in recent Tour history. ’s stage to Saint-Lary-Soulan is only 65km – the shortest non-split road stage of the past 30 years – but its climbs include the Montée de Peyragudes, where Froome lost time in 2017, and a slow torture of a climb to the summit finish, which averages nearly 9% gradient along its 16km length.It would appear to be an obvious stage for Froome to try to wrestle some time back but he dismissed suggestions he would be gunning for his teammate. “All this talk of attacking or not attacking … we’re in an amazing position, we’re one and two,” he added. “It’s not up to us to be attacking. It’s for all the other riders in the peloton to make up time on us and dislodge us from the position we’re in.”Meanwhile Thomas insists he has been on good terms with Froome ever since they rode for Barloworld together a decade ago. “We’re good mates. We’ve ridden in the same team for a number of years now and we’ve generally lived in the same areas,” he said. “We get on – for now, anyway.”There was a smile and then a tribute to Froome. “Obviously training with him you learn a lot,” he added, “but the main things are his mental strength and his never-say-die attitude.”Yet deep down in his subconscious he will surely be wary. Before the Tour started Froome planned to come good in the third week, repeating the recipe of his staggering Giro d’Italia comeback in May. But how much will he have left in his tank?There will be two more chances to gain time late in the race: first, on Friday’s epic 200km stage between Lourdes and Laruns, which packs in some of the Tour’s great climbs in the Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque, and then during Saturday’s punchy 31km individual time trial.If all goes to plan, Team Sky hope to make that a head-to-head between Thomas and Froome – with whoever is left in the lead walking away with the final yellow jersey. “I think the dream scenario would be going into that TT with a decent gap on any of our rivals, so that the victory isn’t in jeopardy on that last time trial,” said Froome. “With Tom Dumoulin and Primoz Roglic, two very strong time triallists, that’s a concern obviously. The more of a buffer you can have the better.”For now, though, Team Sky appear to be happy to keep two balls in the air as long as possible – although their directeur sportif, Nico Portal, will be constantly monitoring his riders for weariness and weakness.Thomas insists he feels stronger than ever after a brilliant first two weeks at the Tour – although he is not allowing his mind to run away. “Last year I was confident I could perform, it just didn’t go to plan,” he said. “I had lots of bad luck. But here I have won two mountain stages back to back, which is nuts for me, so I’ve got more confidence and belief.”Enough to stand on the highest step in Paris, looking down on the man who has dominated road cycling for the past five years? “Obviously the closer you get, the more you want to stay on the podium,” said Thomas. “But winning is still not something I’m really thinking about.” Not yet perhaps. But with each passing day this week the thought of wearing yellow in Paris will only grow more luminous – and alluring. Share on Pinterest Since you’re here… Read more Topics Team Ineos Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Read more Team Sky’s Gianni Moscon kicked off Tour de France for striking opponent Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Tour de France 2018last_img

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