Froome keeps predators at bay to retain impressive advantage

Britain's Chris Froome.
Britain's Chris Froome.
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Chris Froome fended off numerous attacks in maintaining his commanding lead on yesterday’s final stage in the Pyrenees.

The 30-year-old’s Team Sky squad, with Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas to the fore, successfully nullified attempted attacks by Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana as Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) won stage 12 to Plateau de Beille.

The stage began in 35C heat in Lannemezan, but conditions on the 195km route became challenging, with torrential rain falling on the final climb and thunder clapping overhead.

Contador, Nibali and Quintana made their moves within the space of a few minutes on the brutal 15.8km finishing ascent, but Porte and then Thomas reeled them in.

Froome then stretched his legs and next followed an attack by Quintana’s Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde.

Froome crossed six minutes 47 seconds behind Rodriguez – who soloed to his second win of the race, following his triumph on stage three to Mur de Huy – in 10th place alongside the main protagonists.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) remained 2:52 behind in second place and Quintana third, 3:09 adrift.

Valverde remained fourth, 3:58 behind, Thomas fifth, 4:03 back, and Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) one second further behind in sixth.

Defending champion Nibali (Astana) stayed 7:47 adrift despite appearing likely to lose contact.

Alex Dowsett (Movistar) abandoned after being cut adrift early in the stage, having found the going tough since damaging an elbow in a crash on stage four.