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Tour de France 2013: Chris Froome looks unbeatable with week to go
That is bad enough, but Friday’s 204.5-kilometer (127-mile) trek from Bourg d’Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand looks horrendous.
There is simply no respite.
The day begins with two massive climbs, known as HC (Hors Categorie, essentially meaning they are beyond classification because they are so tough) and finishes with two nasty Category 1 climbs, a level just below HC but still incredibly hard.
For good measure, Saturday’s stage ends with a 10.7-kilometer (6.6-mile) HC climb up to Semnoz.
“There are a lot of very eager racers in the peloton left with a lot still to prove,” Froome said. “For us it’s about keeping the yellow jersey and riding in whatever way we can to best defend (it). I don’t think we are necessarily on a mission to try and win every mountain top finish.”
There is a glimmer of hope for Contador, however, because Froome’s Sky teammates have struggled at times. On two stages, Froome had to fend for himself. If that happens again in the Alps — and if he has a bad day — he could yet lose a serious amount of time.
“Yes, there is one stage I am looking at. It could be a good day to try something,” Contador said through a translator. “I’m going to look for an opportunity. In one week’s time you’ll know which one it was.”
Sky now has seven riders because Edvald Boasson Hagen retired with injury last week and Vasil Kiryienka missed the time cut on Stage 9.
“We lost a lot of our horsepower, our engine room,” Froome said. “Since then it’s been about managing the resources we do have and trying to get through each day as best we can. I feel the guys have done a fantastic job.”
Froome may need a little bit more of a cushion, though, and could target the 32-kilometer (20-mile) time trial.
The race resumes on Tuesday with a medium mountain stage from Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap in the Alps.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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