The Norman Transcript

National Sports

July 8, 2013

Froome shows he can roll with the punches

NORMAN — BAGNERES-DE-BIGORRE, France — The mighty mountains of the Pyrenees offered at least two important insights about Tour de France leader Chris Froome: He can land terrible blows to his rivals with his grinding uphill speed and can take their punches, too. In short, if the Briton in the yellow jersey perhaps isn’t unbeatable, he seems very close to it.

After nine hectic days of racing over 1,513 kilometers (940 miles), the Tour luxuriates in its first rest day on Monday. The pause allows the contenders for victory in Paris on July 21 to lick their wounds and regroup after Froome knocked them dizzy and grabbed the race lead with a triumphant first day of climbing in the Pyrenees on Saturday. But they’ll also be ruing the opportunity they collectively wasted the very next day on Sunday to hurt Froome right back.

On what may well prove to have been one of the toughest and decisive days of this 100th Tour, and certainly one of the most tactical and interesting,

Froome’s rivals isolated him from his Sky teammates and forced him to ride alone — one man against many — up four consecutive climbs as jagged as sharks’ teeth. But they could not make Froome crack.

“That was one of the hardest days that I’ve ever had on a bike,” the 2012 Tour runner-up said after defending his yellow jersey.

The rival who harassed Froome most, with successive squirts of acceleration on the last climb, was Nairo Quintana. The lesson the Colombian drew from this drama amid pine forests and peaks with stubborn patches of snow was: “That we can break down his team a little, but that he can defend himself and is very strong.”

Sky’s impressive climbing on Saturday was in some respects reminiscent of the way Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team would exhaust his rivals. But the way Sky wilted on Sunday definitely was not. Doped up on hormones, blood transfusions and other performance-enhancers, Armstrong’s teammates rarely looked human like this. This Tour is the first since Armstrong was stripped last year of his seven titles for serial doping.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Bradford facing another year of scrutiny in newest season

    ST. LOUIS — It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford. Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Judge rules against owner Donald Sterling, but lengthy saga far from over

    LOS ANGELES — Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lost his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer....

    July 29, 2014

  • T-Wolves land guard Mo Williams

    MINNEAPOLIS — Mo Williams is on his way to Minnesota, which means J.J. Barea could be on his way out....

    July 29, 2014

  • LSU freshmen face misdemeanors

    BATON ROUGE, La. — Two LSU freshmen football players face charges, one for allegedly stealing a bicycle outside Middleton Library and the other for allegedly tossing firecrackers into a campus apartment....

    July 29, 2014

  • Fitzgerald says players’ push for union brought Northwestern together

    CHICAGO — No matter how this season unfolds, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald insisted there is no more unified team than his Wildcats. For that, he credits the push for them to unionize....

    July 29, 2014

  • Delany rides fence with PSU

    CHICAGO — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany took a non-committal stance on an effort by five Pennsylvania Congressmen to rescind sanctions against Penn State for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal....

    July 29, 2014

  • Murray St. aims to be OVC contenders

    Fifth-year Murray State coach Chris Hatcher has returned the program to OVC relevance thanks to his exciting “Hatch Attack” offense. The Racers will need more results if they hope to be serious contenders....

    July 29, 2014

  • Healthy Claiborne ready to show his worth to Cowboys

    OXNARD, Calif. — Morris Claiborne got on Terrance Williams’ nerves the minute the competition started at training camp for the Dallas Cowboys....

    July 29, 2014

  • Lions postpone Suh talks

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions are postponing contract talks with All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the season....

    July 29, 2014

  • Peppers adjusts to 3-4 defense

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — Standing a sturdy 6-foot-7, Packers pass rusher Julius Peppers poses an imposing sight to opposing linemen even without pads. Good thing Green Bay’s front five only has to go up against Peppers in practice now....

    July 29, 2014