Nibali unchallenged in Tour de France, says Froome

Team Sky’s Chris Froome expressed sadness over the outcome of the Tour de France because he believes there was no one to rival Astana’s overall winner Vincenzo Nibali during the decisive mountain stages after he and Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain Alberto Contador were forced to abandon due to their injuries from crashing.

"I think Nibali definitely does deserve the win this year, he did make it through all those stages that had all the crashes and all those difficult parts," said Froome in an interview with NBC Sports.

"But I do believe it would have been a different race if Alberto and I had been competing in the mountains.”

Froome went into the race as the defending champion and one of the favorites to win the overall title for a second year but he abandoned during the cobbled stage 5 after several earlier crashes. It was later announced that he had fractured his wrist and hand. Contador, the other main favorite to win yellow, was forced out of the race after a crash on a descent during stage 10, and he later announced that he had a fractured tibia.

Nibali took the early race lead after winning stage 2 into Sheffield and later showed a commanding performance on the cobbles during the fifth stage. He only lost the race lead for one day to Tony Gallopin of Lotto-Belisol, who gained time from a successful breakaway during the ninth stage into Mulhouse. The Italian took back the yellow jersey after he won on La Planche des Belle Filles during stage 10, and he went on to win two more stages in the mountains; stage 13 to Chamrousse and stage 18 on Hautacam.

Crowned the overall winner on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Sunday, he won the race by 7:37 minutes ahead of Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and 8:15 ahead of Thibault Pinot ( in third place.

Froome congratulated Nibali for his overall win of the three-week Grand Tour but also noted that it was hard for him to watch the race from the sidelines, especially the stages through the Alps and the Pyrenees, where Nibali was unchallenged.

"It's been difficult for me watching the race - Nibali in the mountains has been relatively unchallenged, he hasn't had people attacking him and it hasn't been a mano-a-mano fight for the yellow jersey.

"That's sad for a race like the Tour de France. I would have loved to have been there up in the mountains with him. But he survived, he stayed upright, and he deserves to win.”

Froome is targeting a return to the peloton at the Vuelta a España held from August 23 to September 14.

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