• Chris Froome, protected by the Sky army (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Chris Froome has put his clear team advantage at the Tour de France down to a single-minded strategy that paid dividends on the first day in the Alps where he extended his overall lead.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
21 Jul 2016 - 11:34 AM  UPDATED 21 Jul 2016 - 11:35 AM

The collective power of Sky has been well documented at the Tour and was again notable on the 17th stage where Froome had surplus support on the penultimate climb, which Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was short on and Richie Porte, with BMC team-mate Greg van Avermaet in the break, freestyled over.

Sky has seldom if it all put a man in the escape at the 103rd edition, choosing instead to surround its captain each day and work to a formulaic motion, each rider peeling off once their job is done for the defending champion.

“One of the big differences with our team just compared to other teams is that all eight team-mates of mine are focused on one goal,” Froome said. “If you look at other teams, they’ve got a sprinter, they’ve got a GC rider, they’ve got two GC riders, they’re trying to put guys in the break for stages, there’s a lot of different things happening.

“I’ve got eight, myself included nine, guys who are absolutely dedicated to one goal and I think that makes a big difference.”

Sky has won three Tour titles since its inception in 2010 and perhaps with the exception of 2012, where it managed Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish at the race, has refined the distinct approach Froome details to a point that it now physically and mentally disables the competition. Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff team owner Oleg Tinkov at last month's Criterium du Dauphine went so far as to say Froome was not necessarily the best climber but had the best team.

However, that’s not to undermine the Briton’s own efforts at the Tour. He has won the overall title twice and in a third attempt as outright leader is noticeably more confident off the bike as well.

“I’m more used to being in this position, having to sit in press conferences every day. The first time I was in this position, it feels a bit daunting, you do feel the pressure. I think this time being the third experience for me it does feel slightly easier, certainly more relaxed in that sense,” said Froome.

Porte may not have had such power in numbers on the way to the summit finish at Finhaut-Emosson on Wednesday but held his own and moved up on the general classification with an attack only Froome could answer. Thursday’s time trial presents another opportunity for the focused Tasmanian, who is now sixth overall, to inch closer to the podium.

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