With just one more day to go in the Alps, Team Sky looks set to ride into Paris for their second Tour de France win in a row after the overall contenders marked each other out of stage 19 to Le Grand Bornand on Friday. Chris Froome continues to lead the race, his 5:11 lead over Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) intact.
After the fireworks on Alpe d'Huez, Friday's stage was about consolidation for Froome's rivals. Legs weary from yesterday and with one more summit finish to come, the race for the final podium places became the objectives for Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). The teams' classification also became a clear aim for Saxo-Tinkoff as they sacrificed Michael Rogers' own GC ambitions for the greater prize.
Not that one Dave Brailsford minded in the slightest. Almost giddy with relief after Sky were given a relatively unchallenging day from their rivals, the Sky boss's emotions were clear as he talked to the press after the stage.
"It was a pretty regular stage to be honest. We were never under pressure, a perfect stage really but G [Geraint Thomas] and Ian [Stannard] did a great job this morning and then Saxo took over riding and that was that," he said.
"Well they didn't have to work, did they?" Brailsford replied when asked about how the day played out for him team. "They just sat there and haven't really tried all day… well they tried but they've not been put under pressure.
"Yesterday everyone was on their knees, you could see that quite clearly, so today it was all or nothing if someone wanted to risk it. On a regular stage and then a short stage tomorrow with the final climb and maybe some podium places could change there."
With one more day in the mountains to come Sky has one final day of work ahead of them before the procession to Paris.
Asked if the race was over, Brailsford replied, "If you start thinking that you're in trouble and like always we'll go in there with the fear of God in us and try and defend our situation. It's good to get that stage out of the way.
"There's a lot to play for tomorrow. There's team GC, there's all the podium positions."
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