Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

TOUR DE FRANCE ; Quintana Cracks on Alpine Stage, Froome Extends Lead

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

TOUR DE FRANCE ; Quintana Cracks on Alpine Stage, Froome Extends Lead

Article excerpt

It didn't happen.

Despite being a specialist in mountain stages, Quintana surrendered to the defending champion in the first Alpine leg of this year's Tour - won by Russian all-rounder Ilnur Zakarin on Wednesday. Froome made the most of a brutal final ascent to the artificial lake of Finhaut-Emosson to tighten his grip on the race and take another step toward a third title in four years at cycling's biggest event.

"It's been a very difficult Tour for Nairo, said Froome, after the Colombian lost another 28 seconds. "He's still a great rival and a big challenger for me, but he lost more time today. I think for him to re-enter into the game again he's going to have to do a real good time trial tomorrow.

Having already lost a considerable amount of time during the two first weeks of racing, Quintana was expected to be in the thick of the action in the Alps. Instead, he was powerless to do anything but watch when Froome accelerated with less than two kilometers left.

"My yellow dream is over, but I'm just 26, and the riders in front of me have more experience, said Quintana, who finished twice runner-up at the Tour behind Froome in 2013 and 2015. "I have many years left to realize that dream.

While Quintana struggled, Froome reasserted his superiority over his direct rivals in the sizzling heat that hit the Swiss Alps.

"I'm feeling better than I've ever felt in the third week of a Grand Tour before, Froome said. Given the big gaps which the Kenya- born rider has already opened up, the news does not bode well for his rivals.

With four stages remaining before the finish in Paris, Froome leads Bauke Mollema by 2 minutes 27 seconds overall. Adam Yates is third, 2:53 off the pace and Quintana sits in fourth place, 3:27 behind his British rival.

Once the stage reached the mountains, Froome's teammates deployed their usual tactics, moving to the front to set a sustained tempo and tire his rivals. Riding several minutes behind the breakaways, Richie Porte finally attacked from the yellow jersey group around two kilometers from the finish.

On the steep ramps leading to the line, Quintana, Yates and Mollema were unable to respond, and Froome accelerated. …

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