• Froome is keeping a close eye on Nairo Quintana. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Nairo Quintana is expected to be at his best for the final week of the Tour de France, which feature four stages in the Alps, but Chris Froome says he has never been better going into a grand tour decider.
20 Jul 2016 - 5:58 AM  UPDATED 20 Jul 2016 - 5:59 AM

"I feel more ready for the third week than I have been in previous editions," Froome said on the second rest day of the Tour on Tuesday.

Although he is anticipating attacks from his opponents, especially from Quintana, Froome believes the first two weeks of racing have been particularly tiring.

"I am asked why guys didn't attack two stages ago (in the 14th stage of Culoz) but Fabio Aru, Alejandro Valverde and Romain Bardet did. Other people are tired," said the defending champion, who is looking to become the first rider to retain his title since Miguel Indurain in 1995.

"I think that one of the main reasons we've not seen massive attacks is the level of fatigue. At the moment everyone is nailed."

The Team Sky rider leads Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) by 1m47 and fellow Briton Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) by 2m45. Froome's main rival,  Nairo Quintana, is fourth overall, 2m59 off the pace.

Quintana was on the attack twice in the Ventoux stage last week, but he was quickly reined in by Froome's team mates, which made the Movistar rider look pretty much toothless. Froome did not expect that to continue until the end of the Tour, however.

"Last year he made up a lot of time in the final week, and I expect he’s gonna to be one of the main guys putting us under pressure these next few days."

 

Quintana: we have to isolate Froome

Quintana, meanwhile, argued that Movistar's conservative approach in the first two weeks is all part of the plan.

“You have to sit down and look logically at where the time was lost,” said Quintana at the Movistar rest day press conference. “The truth is it was the time trial above all that played on his strengths, and we couldn’t really do anything about that.”

The Movistar leader and twice second-placed man at the Tour highlighted that separating Froome from his 'imperial guard' is essential to best the Team Sky rider.

"What we need to attack him is for his team to be spent," said Quintana. 

"As we've seen, his team is really strong, they've not suffered much damage from any attacks. Some of his team-mates who are helping him could be leaders in other teams. The main idea is to try to get him on his own."

He dismissed Thursday's mountain time trial as a stage that will make much difference to the overall standings, but felt differently about the road stages on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Movistar team boss Eusebio Unzue agreed. 

 

“Attacking all the time would be good for the show, but it’s unrealistic and not a guarantee for success," Unzue said. “We need to wait for the right time, for the moment that will allow us to be efficient, when we make a move."

Wednesday's 17th stage takes the peloton to a summit finish in Finhaut-Emosson, Switzerland, before an uphill time trial on Thursday, another mountaintop finish in Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc on Friday and a gruelling mountain stage to Morzine on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s parade to the Champs Elysees.