The Team Sky rider was third across the line in yesterday’s gruelling 185km trek from Nantua to Chambery and holds the coveted jersey going into today’s well-deserved rest day.
But it was a different story for many others in the race, including his teammate Geraint Thomas and Ireland’s Dan Martin.
Martin was lurking with intent in fourth starting out yesterday and with 25 seconds between him and Froome, he was seen as a definite contender for at least the stage and possibly the yellow jersey. And that was going exactly to plan as he descended the final climb of the day, the treacherously steep Mont du Chat.
Martin was in a group of just seven chasing Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) when Richie Porte (BMC Racing) got a corner badly wrong and suffered a horrific fall. A provisional medical report said Porte had suffered injuries to his head and pelvis.
Martin was brought down in the incident but was able to remount and continue the race.
Thomas also crashed on a fast descent but was unable to continue due to injury.
French favourite Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) took flight when the road flattened out. He went all out for a solo victory and the 47 seconds he needed to take the yellow but was caught inside 3km to go and a sprint decided the outcome.
Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale Drapac) was given the verdict in a photo-finish from Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb), the latter having spent much of the day up the road in the break. Uran’s victory was even more impressive given the fact he damaged his gears in swerving to avoid the Porte/Martin crash and was restricted to just one gear ratio.
Martin still managed to finish in the top 10, crossing the line, utterly spent, 1’15” behind stage winner Uran which meant he dropped to sixth overall at 1’44”.
Fabio Aru (Astana) won no friends when he attacked Froome when the race leader required mechanical assistance. The Italian was fifth and moved up to second at 18 seconds while Bardet is up to third at 51 seconds.
Nicolas Roche was over 27 minutes down yesterday and with his team’s leader out of the race it’s likely he will be given the freedom to try and chase breaks.