ALBI, France —
Impey is convinced Froome will be wearing yellow in Paris on July 21.
“The climbing ability he’s shown, he’s definitely nearly in a league of his own. He’s obviously a different climber to Contador, but I think Chris is going to be hard to beat.”
On a stage that, with the mountains looming, felt like the calm before a storm, Peter Sagan from Slovakia won the finishing sprint Friday in Albi, an enchanting medieval city on the banks of the Tarn river, dominated by its 13th century fortified brick-built Sainte-Cecile Cathedral and listed as a World Heritage site by the United Nations’ cultural agency, UNESCO. Impey rode strongly to stay in Sagan’s bunch and keep the race lead he inherited from teammate Simon Gerrans on Thursday.
Sagan is running away with the Tour’s chase for the green jersey, awarded to the rider who collects most points from sprints at the end of stages and during them. He won that jersey last year, too. Sagan is known both for his speed and versatility as a rider.
He has been all business since the Tour set off from Corsica on June 29. Since he was bloodied in a crash on the first day, Sagan has never finished lower than third in a stage (not including the team time trial on Stage 4) — with three second places, one third place and now a win on Stage 7. It took the pack up four moderate climbs on a 127.7-mile slog in intense heat from Montpellier.
Assuming Impey surrenders the race lead on Saturday, the 2012 Tour will get its fifth different wearer of the yellow jersey.
The record at a single Tour is eight, which happened in both 1958 and 1987.