Tour de France 2016: Brits dominate

Adam Yates, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish (left to right)

Adam Yates, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish (left to right) are wearing the respective leading riders’ jerseys

Nine stages gone, 12 remaining, three Britons dominating the Tour de France.

During a weekend of great British sporting success, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Adam Yates played their part at cycling’s premier event.

Team Sky’s Froome is in the yellow jersey chasing his third title, Yates, 23, is the leading young rider in white (and in second place overall) and Cavendish is still in the points leaders’ green jersey.

But what colours will they be wearing by the time they finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday, 24 July?

BBC Sport coverage of the race continues with live text and radio commentary of stage 10 on Tuesday from 12:00 BST.

Read Geraint Thomas’ guide to stage 10.

Listen to Radio 5 live’s podcast from Monday’s rest day.

Is Froome set for a hat-trick?

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Chris Froome (right) has a 16-second lead over Nairo Quintana

Can anyone stop him from joining Greg LeMond, Louison Bobet and Philippe Thys as a three-time champion and edging closer to the record five won by Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx of Belgium and Spain’s Miguel Indurain.

He holds a 16-second lead over second-placed Yates, but is only 23 seconds ahead of main rival and two-time runner-up Nairo Quintana of Colombia.

Froome is faced with two key stages this week. On Thursday, Bastille Day, the riders have to deal with a climb of the legendary Mont Ventoux and a 1,912m summit finish.

The 31-year-old won a similar stage that ended atop the ‘Beast of Provence’ in 2013, catching Quintana before finishing 29 seconds ahead of the Movistar rider. The Briton went on to win his first Tour.

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Thursday’s 12th stage promises to be a defining one in this year’s Tour

Froome said: “Ventoux was kind to me, but when I got to the top last time I had to get straight on to oxygen support I was so tired.

“It’s a massive climb, one of the most iconic of this race and to win up there again would be unreal.

“But it’s going to be pretty hard knowing there’s a time trial the next day. It will be interesting to see who is going to go that deep for victory up there.”

That time trial is on Friday when the riders contend with the 37.5km race from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont-D’Arc, which has an uphill finish.

“If Froome is unbeatable at the moment? I feel Nairo is, too,” said Quintana’s Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde.

“There’s still a long way to go in this Tour – you must attack when it’s your real time. You never know when it will come.”

With two-time champion Alberto Contador withdrawing last weekend, it appears Froome only has Quintana to contend with.

Can Yates make the podium?

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Leading young rider Adam Yates is second in the general classification

This is only the Bury-born rider’s second Tour de France, but the expectations of what he can achieve have grown tenfold.

Yates said his primary objective was to win stages, but he now finds himself in the mix for the final podium.

“I’m still here for stages, I came to race for stages,” he said.

“I am doing good on general classification (GC) but it’s a background objective. I’m not too bad where I am and we have the rest day tomorrow. I’ll rest up and see how the legs come out after.”

South Africa’s Louis Meintjes is 39 seconds behind Yates in the race for the young riders’ white jersey – awarded to the best rider under 25 – with Frenchman Warren Barguil almost another two minutes further adrift.

Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford said Orica-BikeExchange rider Yates should not dismiss his hopes of making an impact in the GC.

“He should continue racing as long as he can for three weeks, manage himself and see how he gets on,” he said.

“I don’t think that if he drops off a little bit that he should sit up and go for stage wins. [He should] keep on persevering with the whole adventure because I think that will stand him very good stead for future years.”

Is Cavendish keen for green?

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Mark Cavendish won the green jersey in 2011

The 31-year-old Manxman has taken his tally of Tour stage wins to a remarkable 29 – the second highest total ever and only five behind record holder and five-time race winner Eddy Merckx.

He leads the points classification – which he won in 2011 – but expects to be beaten by Slovak Peter Sagan, who has finished with the green jersey in the last four Tours.

“Once we hit the mountains, there’s no way,” he said last Thursday.

“Peter is on a different level to everyone else and when he decides to do something he just does it. It’s nice to wear green but there’s nobody targeting it in Paris other than Peter.”

After Sunday’s first major stage in the mountains, Cavendish said: “It was hot, I hate it in the Pyrenees. It’s just too hot for me, I’m from the Isle of Man.”

The 2011 green jersey winner did hold a 29-point lead over Sagan, but that is now down to seven.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/36765422

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