Chris Froome strengthens grip on yellow jersey during sombre day in France

Chris Froome strengthens grip on yellow jersey during sombre day in France

Chris Froome finds himself in a dominant position after a subdued day at the Tour de France.

With the thoughts of most of the riders, including Froome, turning to the tragic events in Nice, the changing complexion of the general classification battle was an afterthought.

But Friday's time trial, in which Froome finished second to Tom Dumoulin, saw the Team Sky rider take big chunks of time out of his rivals to increase his lead in yellow to one minute and 47 seconds from Dutchman Bauke Mollema.

With 13 stages down, Froome has beaten his rivals in just about every category that matters up to this point.

He took yellow with an audacious downhill attack on stage eight to Bagneres-du-Luchon, then extended his lead by taking advantage of crosswinds in an opportunistic move on stage 11 to Montpellier.

The farcical end to stage 12 on Mont Ventoux, in which Froome was seen desperately running up the mountain after his bike was broken in a crash caused by the huge crowds, masked the fact that Froome had pulled clear of main rival Nairo Quintana with relative ease on a climb which should have suited the Colombian.

Then on Friday, Froome used his time trialling skills to more than double his lead and he now sits two minutes and 59 seconds ahead of Quintana in fourth.

Saturday's stage from Montelimar to the Parc des Oiseaux in Villars-les-Dombes should see little change in the general classification subject to unforeseen events - although there have been plenty of those in this Tour.

Froome, a Monaco resident, had little interest in discussing his extended lead after the time trial, choosing instead to make a statement about the Nice attacks and then end his press conference.

"I think it's pretty clear today everyone's thoughts are with those affected down in Nice," Froome said. "I think it's difficult for us to even be here talking about the race with all that happening yesterday down in Nice.

"It's somewhere pretty close to home for me, somewhere I do a lot of training, and to see the promenade the way it was yesterday evening with bodies over the road is horrific, horrific scenes.

"My deepest sympathies, my deepest condolences go out to those families who have lost loved ones in Nice."

Although Quintana has given up almost three minutes to Froome to this point, the 26-year-old - second to Froome in 2013 and 2015 - is still seen as the main danger man ahead of the final week of racing.

Quintana came on strong in the third week last year, briefly threatening to snatch yellow on the penultimate stage to Alpe d'Huez, and remains hopeful of something similar again.

"I'm three minutes down in the GC, that's a little far," he said.

"I hope the legs will continue to be good. There are still a lot of mountains. I will try to attack like I've always done. I hope I will have the legs to do it. We're going to try everything we can."

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