As race leader, Chris Froome has had few difficult decisions to make in this year's race. His team have worked early on in some stages and positioned their GC assets near the front in the hectic finales. But for a team time trial on the slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles the only stress on Froome's shoulders came when he crashed on stage 2 and when a controversial skin suit had his rivals splitting at the seams.
"I think that we've ridden a good race tactically so far, in the sense that we've not ended up doing a huge amount on the front," Froome said after stage 6 finished in a bunch sprint.
For all the talk of ASO trying to design a course to nullify Froome's strength and enhance the chances of his rivals, the reality is that Team Sky are just where they would like to be – out in front. The margins might be small but the route – asphyxiated of the classical mountain-top stages – is providing Team Sky with cover until they really need it. The puzzling tactics of some of Froome's closest rivals helps, too.
"Of course BMC controlled the race yesterday and I think that my teammates are certainly grateful for that but these sprint days are always going to be controlled by the sprinters' teams and the lion share of the work will be done by them. Thankfully up until this point we've not had do a lot of work on the front and hopefully, that will continue. It will make a difference in the third week, that we're still fresh at the moment."
When he climbed off his bike, Froome was asked if he would be willing to effectively loan out the jersey in order to avoid a heavy workload for his team. It's true, they miss a rouleur in Ian Stannard, but they are still brimming with riders who would make any Tour selection on a rival team.
"As far as the Tour de France goes, that was as relaxed as it gets for us GC riders," he said. "Of course, the sprinters had a big battle in the final, but for us, it was a pretty uneventful day - just stay out of the wind, stay on the wheels and save as much energy (as possible) for the days coming up.
"I think I wouldn't mind giving it up to a breakaway if a breakaway did go, say, 15 or 20 minutes up the road with guys we didn't worry about in terms of the general classification, but of course I wouldn't be that happy to give it up to any of my rivals."
Froome leads from teammate Geraint Thomas, but it's Fabio Aru who has everyone buzzing right now. The Italian lit up stage 5 with his best ever ride at the Tour and has effectively become the biggest threat as things stand. Only time will tell if Froome's decision not to follow the Astana rider on Wednesday's final climb will come back to haunt him.
"He went at a very good moment," Froome said. "I still had two teammates so I made the decision to rest and stay with my teammates. I think that knowing that he was also coming into the stage over 45 seconds down he wasn't someone that I needed to react to straight away. In hindsight maybe I could have done things differently but going forward I know that I'm not just going to watch him ride away."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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