Tour de France: Chris Froome survives comedy of errors and 'Wacky Races moment'

Team Sky leader expects fireworks on stage 11

Chris Froome (Team Sky) and the majority of his GC rivals came through an undramatic first day in the Alps after a headwind and cautious tactics dictated stage 10 of the Tour de France.

Froome's only moment of concern came when the peloton reached the 1.8km stretch of gravel road that leads to the Plateau des Glières. This was nothing like the dirt roads of the Finestre in the Giro d'Italia, but the profile and terrain were enough to disrupt Team Sky's autopilot after Froome punctured and then needed another wheel change soon after.

"I had a little bit of a Wacky Races moment," Froome said after the finish, referring to the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. "I had a puncture on the dirt section and I got a spare wheel from a teammate only to find out it was flat as well."

With Dick Dastardly, Muttley and Penelope Pitstop inexplicably left off Team Sky's Tour team, it was up to his seven teammates at the race to help Froome back. They duly knocked off the pace before a rider eventually waited and helped the defending champion back to the main field.

"It was a bit of a comedy of errors, but I got a wheel from the neutral service," Froome said. "Thankfully it was a long way from the finish so things weren't too crazy and I was able to get back in."

Froome was never tested during the remainder of the stage, with his team only forced to chase once, when Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates) had the temerity to attack on the crest of the final climb. The Irishman's move helped drop a number of potential top 10 contenders, but Froome, Geraint Thomas and the core of Team Sky's climbing unit held firm.

Down in the valley, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) claimed a maiden Tour de France stage while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) bravely kept hold of his yellow jersey for a further day of racing.

"It was a good day for us," Froome said. "We couldn't have asked for a lot more. It was pretty steady. Alaphilippe did a good ride to take the stage, and obviously Greg did by getting into the break and holding onto the yellow jersey for another day. From our point of view, it was good to have the numbers up at the front on the first big mountain day. I think the guys really showed exactly what we'd been training for."

The fact that 2017 runner-up Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) lost more than two minutes at the finish will please Team Sky for their efforts, but the reality is that tougher opponents lie in wait. With two more days in the Alps still to come, the race is finely balanced for now. Froome sits sixth overall, with most of his rivals scattered within a minute of him.

"I was feeling pretty good," Froome said. "We've got some big days coming up. I'm not totally surprised that Movistar didn't attack on the last climb. Everyone's got their own game plan and they're probably thinking about the hard days that are coming up next. There were no problems with spectators. There was the odd comment, the odd fan who was negative, but it's the Tour de France and that's how it is."

When asked if or he or Team Sky could have taken the yellow jersey on stage 10, the Giro d'Italia winner responded diplomatically.

"I don't want to take anything away from Greg Van Avermaet," Froome said of the current overall leader. "He did a fantastic ride today. Getting himself into that break on such a mountainous day wasn't easy so he did a great job to hang on to it and I'm sure he'll be fighting for it again tomorrow. No one really showed their cards today. Everyone played it a little bit conservatively. Maybe they were thinking about the next two days, which are going to be pretty hard as well.

"It was the first day of a three-day block. It wasn't a summit finish. I don't think our big rivals necessarily showed their hand today. For us, it was more about staying up front and out of trouble, and it was really nice to see as well that we had the numbers up there when it started to get selective towards the end."

Stage 11 to La Rosière is set to be far more decisive, with the short profile containing four climbs and the first summit finish of the race. No doubt Team Sky will employ their well-used playbook, but their opponents are set to at least try and make their mark.

"Tomorrow's the first summit finish," Froome said. "We should certainly see a more explosive final than we saw today and, especially after today, we should see some tired legs and that will mean some gaps opening up."

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