BRITAIN’S Chris Froome hailed “a dream day” on the Tour de France after an emphatic stage 10 victory blew away his main rivals and tightened his grip on the yellow jersey.
Froome crossed the finish line 59 seconds before any other rider, extending his lead in the general classification from an overnight margin of 12 seconds to a mammoth two minutes and 52 seconds.
It was a welcome lift for Team Sky, who hours earlier had accused critics of hacking into and stealing confidential performance data in an attempt to accuse Froome and his colleagues of doping.
“There’s still a very long way to go to Paris but of course I’m ecstatic about how it went today,” said Froome. “There are some really big time gaps today which I’m quite surprised about, seeing as we only had the one climb. When I heard on the radio it was like music to the ears, especially this early in the race. It was a dream day for us.”
Froome mounted a long-range attack 6km from the first summit finish on this year’s Tour, after Team Sky had dropped all of his major rivals bar Movistar’s expert climber Nairo Quintana.
He then left the Colombian trailing on the steep slopes of La Pierre-Saint-Martin to take a huge stride towards adding to his 2013 Tour title. Colleague Richie Porte was second, five seconds ahead of Quintana. Two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador lost almost three minutes to Froome, while defending champion Vincenzo Nibali lost close to four and a half.
It means that, with 11 stages to go, Froome leads Quintana by three minutes and nine seconds, Contador by four minutes and four seconds, and Nibali by six minutes and 57 seconds.
American Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing is second overall, almost three minutes behind Froome, while Team Sky’s Welsh rider Geraint Thomas is up to fifth, behind Quintana and Spanish team-mate Alejandro Valverde.
“The plan was to sit behind Movistar and see how many riders we had left,” said Thomas. “We had four and we all felt good. Froomey said on the radio that he felt good so let’s smash it. Personally I felt great and for the team it was even better.”
1. Chris Froome, Team Sky 35:56:09
2. Tejay van Garderen, BMC +2:52
3. Nairo Quintana, Movistar +3:09
4. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar +4:01
5. Geraint Thomas, Team Sky +4:03
6. Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo +4:04