Froome closes in on Tour victory with stage win

 
Frank Dalleres
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BRITAIN’S Chris Froome last night toasted a tactical masterstroke after a change of bike midway through yesterday’s time trial earned him the stage win and propelled him closer to Tour de France glory.

Froome increased his lead on main yellow jersey rival Alberto Contador by nine seconds to four minutes, 34 seconds with just four stages remaining by winning his third stage of this year’s Tour.

The Team Sky rider had trailed the Spanish two-time Tour winner, who he accused of riding dangerously on Tuesday, by 20 seconds at one point, but overhauled Contador after swapping his road bike for a time trial model.

“It could have made the difference. I felt when I rode the course this morning that I needed the bigger gear and so it paid off,” said Froome.

Victory made the Kenya-born 28-year-old only the second Briton to win more than two stages in one year, after former Team Sky colleague Mark Cavendish. Froome also won at Ax 3 Domaines and Mont Ventoux, meaning he also leads the king of the mountains standings.

“I can’t believe it,” he added. “Three stage wins, the yellow jersey and the polka dot jersey – this Tour has been incredible for me so far. It rained a bit for my second descent and I was prepared to concede time and not take risks, so it was a surprise to win.”

Froome, who finished second behind absent team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins last year and looks set to clinch his first Tour title in Paris on Sunday, completed the time trial in 51 minutes, 33 seconds.

Katusha rider Joaquim Rodriguez was third fastest, 10 seconds behind Froome and one adrift of Contador, while Belkin’s Bauke Mollema, who began the day second overall, lost more than two minutes.