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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Chris Froome prepared to give up fifth Tour de France title bid to help Geraint Thomas

Team Sky riders occupy the two leading places in the general classification race with a week of the race remaining

Chris Froome, left, and Geraint Thomas, right, are in contention to win the Tour de France. Reuters
Chris Froome, left, and Geraint Thomas, right, are in contention to win the Tour de France. Reuters

Chris Froome may be chasing a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title, but he insists he is ready to sacrifice his bid for glory if it means helping Team Sky colleague Geraint Thomas win his first yellow jersey.

Four-time champion Froome can pull level with the likes of Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain if he triumphs on the Champs Elysees next Sunday.

But Froome, currently one minute, 39 seconds behind Thomas in the overall standings going into three consecutive days in the Pyrenees, said he would be happy to forego his shot at history if it means Thomas wins the race for Sky.

"As long as there is a Team Sky rider on the top step of the podium in Paris, I'm happy," Froome said as he and Thomas faced the media on the race's final rest day in Carcassonne.

Thomas has yet to podium on a three-week Grand Tour and, despite winning the Criterium du Dauphine last month, crashed out of both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2017.

Despite uncertainties over his ability to maintain form, and stay on the bike, in the crucial third week, the 32-year-old Welshman has often looked more incisive than Froome.

For some, Thomas is simply preparing the terrain for Froome to take flight on one of the Pyreneean stages before targeting his record-equalling fifth win.

Alternatively, Sky could be counting on Thomas to take it all the way. Froome's participation in the Giro d'Italia means he, like many other racers before him, may pay for those efforts in the final week.

Team Sky chief Dave Brailsford was at pains to underline his admiration for both riders.

"The two of them are big champions," he said. "For me it's important to see either one of them win the Tour de France.

"At the end of the day, it's the legs of the riders that will decide."

Froome was more evasive when asked if he would attack Thomas if in a position to do so.

"All this talk of attacking or not attacking ... we're in an amazing position, we're one and two," he said. "It's not up to us to be attacking. It's for all the other riders in the peloton to make up time on us and dislodge us from the position we're in."

Thomas, who spent several years racing alongside Froome in their former team Barloworld, said, for now, the team is united.

"We're good mates, we've ridden in same team for 10 years now, we've generally lived in the same areas as well, and trained together," Thomas said. "We just get on. For now, anyway!"