BRITAIN’S Chris Froome admits today could make or break his quest for Tour de France glory after he extended his overall lead despite being hit with a time penalty for illegal feeding.
The Tour’s 19th stage features four testing climbs and, with Froome looking weary on the Alpe d’Huez yesterday, represents the biggest remaining obstacle to his hopes of being crowned winner in Paris on Sunday.
Froome called today’s 204km route from Bourg d’Oisans to Le Grand Bornard “possibly the toughest day of the Tour de France” and shrugged off his 20 second penalty as he finished seventh yesterday.
Team Sky colleague Richie Porte received the same punishment after Froome asked him to drop back and collect drinks and energy gels – a tactic forbidden during the final 6km.
“I was running low on sugars,” said the Kenya-born 28-year-old, who was second at last year’s Tour. “I am thankful to have Richie with me. He did a super, super job.”
Froome tightened his grip on the yellow jersey despite showing his first signs of flagging, extending his lead over main rival Alberto Contador to five minutes, 11 seconds, after dropping the Spanish Saxo-Tinkoff rider on the final ascent.
Frenchman Christophe Riblon, of AG2R, claimed the hosts’ first stage win this year after overtaking American BMC Racing rider Tejay van Garderen during the closing 2km.
Colombian Nairo Quintana, of Movistar, took fourth place to move to within 21 seconds of Contador in the general classification.