Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Tour de France 2016: Brits dominate - but will they stay there?

Adam Yates, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish (left to right)
Nine stages gone, 12 remaining, three Britons dominating the Tour de France.
During a weekend of great British sporting success, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish, Adam Yates and Steve Cummings played their part at cycling's premier event.
Team Sky's Froome is in the yellow jersey chasing his third title, Yates, 23, is the leading young rider in white (and in second place overall), Cavendish is still in the points leaders' green jersey while Cummings won stage seven - one of five won by British riders in the opening week.
But what colours will they be wearing by the time they finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday, 24 July/?

Is Froome set for a hat-trick?http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/800/cpsprodpb/AEBF/production/_90353744_froome_getty.jpg

Can anyone stop him from joining Greg LeMond, Louison Bobet and Philippe Thys as a three-time champion and edging closer to the record five won by Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx of Belgium and Spain's Miguel Indurain.
He holds a 16-second lead over second-placed Yates, but is only 23 seconds ahead of main rival and two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana of Colombia.
Froome is faced with two key stages this week. On Thursday, Bastille Day, the riders have to deal with a climb of the legendary Mont Ventoux and a 1,912m summit finish.
The 31-year-old won a similar stage that ended atop the 'Beast of Provence' in 2013, catching Quintana before finishing 29 seconds ahead of the Movistar rider. The Briton went on to win his first Tour.http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/800/cpsprodpb/64EB/production/_90353852_ventoux.jpg
Froome said: "If you look how far British cycling has come, it's not just by chance. There has been a plan, a structure. It's been riders' talent, so it's definitely not a fluke.
"Ventoux was kind to me, but when I got to the top last time I had to get straight on to oxygen support I was so tired.
"It's a massive climb, one of the most iconic of this race and to win up there again would be unreal."
That time trial is on Friday when the riders contend with the 37.5km race from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont-D'Arc, which has an uphill finish.
"If Froome is unbeatable at the moment? I feel Nairo is, too," said Quintana's Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde.
"There's still a long way to go in this Tour - you must attack when it's your real time. You never know when it will come."
With two-time champion Alberto Contador withdrawing last weekend, it appears Froome only has Quintana to contend with, although Ireland's Dan Martin is third.

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 44 hrs 36mins 3secs
2. Adam Yates (GB/Orica) +16secs
3. Daniel Martin (Ire/Etixx - Quick-Step) +19secs
4. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +23secs
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa/Katusha) +37secs

Can Yates make the podium?http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/800/cpsprodpb/FCDF/production/_90353746_adamyates_getty.jpg

This is only the Bury-born rider's second Tour de France, but the expectations of what he can achieve have grown tenfold.
Yates said his primary objective was to win stages, but he now finds himself in the mix for the final podium, although Friday's time trial is where he is expected to lose time on the favourites for the overall victory.
"I'm still here for stages, I came to race for stages," he said.
"I am doing good on general classification (GC) but it's a background objective. I'm not too bad where I am and we have the rest day tomorrow. I'll rest up and see how the legs come out after."
South Africa's Louis Meintjes is 39 seconds behind Yates in the race for the young riders' white jersey - awarded to the best rider under 25 - with Frenchman Warren Barguil almost another two minutes further adrift.
Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford said Orica-BikeExchange rider Yates should not dismiss his hopes of making an impact in the GC.
"He should continue racing as long as he can for three weeks, manage himself and see how he gets on," he said.
"I don't think that if he drops off a little bit that he should sit up and go for stage wins. [He should] keep on persevering with the whole adventure because I think that will stand him very good stead for future years.
"Britain has invested heavily in the lower ranks and in development pathways and not only in cycling."
Race for the white jersey
1. Adam Yates (GB/Orica) 44 hrs 36mins 19secs
2. Louis Meintjes (SA/Lampre) +39secs
3. Warren Barguil (Fra/Giant) +2mins 35secs
4. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/LottoNL) +5mins 12secs
5. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger/Bora) +8mins 32secs

Is Cavendish keen for green?

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