Chris Froome powered back into the Tour de France yellow jersey on stage 14 as Team Sky capitalised on a tough uphill finish into Rodez.
On paper the 181.5-kilometre test might have looked straightforward, but a fast and technical run-in, coupled with a tough drag to the line, saw the peloton blown to pieces.
Seventh across the stripe, Froome dug deep to finish in a group just one second behind stage victor Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb). Overnight leader Fabio Aru (Astana) saw himself caught out and finished 25 seconds back. The end result saw Froome elevated back into yellow, with an 18-second lead – the same advantage he enjoyed prior to losing the jersey on Thursday.
“We did this two years ago and we saw some pretty big time gaps there with Greg van Avermaet and Peter Sagan going over the line. We knew there were going to be time gaps today – but I didn’t expect that. It’s incredible to be back in yellow, especially after a tough day in the Pyrenees a couple of days ago. To bounce back like this now feels amazing”, said Froome.
“I’ve got to thank the team today. The only reason I’m back in yellow is because of the way they rode that final. Always at the front, it meant that I was out of trouble and had the best lines through the corners. It meant that I got to that last climb and had the legs to be able to follow those front guys.”
Froome also reserved praise for the wingman role Kwiatkowski played in the final kilometres.
“He’s been just amazing, this whole race. Everything we’ve asked of him he’s done it – and more. Today again, in the last few hundred metres he was shouting on the radio, ‘You’ve got a gap, you’ve got a gap, push forward, all the way!’ It’s such a great feeling. “I’m not going to be safe until I reach Paris. As we’ve seen, each day has had surprises. The time gaps are so small, as we expected they would be in this year’s Tour, so really at this point we’re just fighting for every second we can.”