Froome's team-mate Mikel Landa, an excellent climber, can then help him stay in touch during Stages 17 and 18, as Froome gets ready for the crucial time trial in Marseille on Saturday.
He battled back on, but nearly immediately had a mechanical issue, depriving him of the services of Michal Kwiatkowski, who gave his rear wheel to his team leader. "I'm so happy to win a stage at the Tour de France". It was panic stations.
Froome's problems arose because of a mechanical issue with his back wheel at the foot of the most hard ascent of the stage, the first category ascent of Col de Peyra Taillade.
There was no such politeness this time. Team Sky, who have been so dominant in recent Tours, have been unable to control the race as they have done in previous years, and for the first time, having more domestiques around their leader has not yielded advantages.
Froome has never faced such a close battle at this stage of the race.
Approaching the 50 kilometres to go mark, the French team were grouped en masse at the front of the main group, forcing the pace, their efforts rewarded as defending champion Froome lost contact. "For a guy who's doing so well in the classics and capable of winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Lombardy, and Fleche Wallonne, which he hasn't yet (second in 2014 and 2017) but he will some day, I'm sure, to come here to the Tour and riding for GC, very few riders can say that", added Roche.
I did the first climb full gas, trying to bridge to the first group. "Otherwise it was game over for me". They look at each other and I am a little further back.
"Everyone is fighting for every second they can get", Froome said. "The wheel wasn't straight anymore", he said.
With the race to Paris ending on Sunday, the Team Sky rider has a lead of just 18 seconds over Fabio Aru from Astana, while Rigoberto Uran and home favourite Romain Bardet are also within touching distance of the yellow jersey.
Trek-Segafredo's Bauke Mollema recorded his first stage win in the Tour on Sunday, per ITV Cycling.
But since stage 12 the Tour has taken a turn for the better, and as the riders enjoy their second rest day, the 2017 Tour is delicately poised.
As the Tour de France resumes tomorrow in Le Puy-en-Velay and gears up for a final, crucial six days, the peloton do so knowing that this is the closest general classification fight at this juncture since 1951. "Kwaitkowski gave me his wheel because the team auto was far away.We did all we could to return to the top of the race". "The time I made up today could be very vital".
His front brakes damaged, he crashed again on the perilous descent of the Mont du Chat and finished that ninth stage 1:15 behind Froome, his helmet smashed.
"If Froomey wins great, if Landa wins great, as long as one of them wins".
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