This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond was on hand on Mont Ventoux to witness the feats of Chris Froome (Sky), the American telling French television that he believes Sunday’s stage winner has the centenary edition of the locked up.
LeMond, who was on the podium for the stage 15 presentation, told RMC Sport that only a serious crash could derail Froome’s chances of standing on the podium in Paris in a week’s time.
“He is very strong,” the American said. “He can still have a bad day, but I don’t believe he will. In 1986, during my first victory on the Tour I never had bad days… Now with more than four minutes on Bauke Mollema, Chris Froome is in the perfect position to win the Tour.”
Froome blitzed his rivals over the 21km climb, gradually distancing any threats with a seated high tempo and then finally out of the saddle to ensure victory over Nairo Quintana (Movistar). It was a showing which was again the source of much online speculation over the validity of the Kenyan-born Brit’s performance, with Froome and Sky once again reiterating that natural ability was the source of such dominance.
LeMond was supportive of Froome, but noted he had a “weird position” on the bike.
“There is a difference between a climber like Hinault for example, and Froome speeding away like that,” the 52-year-old explained. “People look at technology now, wattage, VO2max and nobody is equal physically. You can’t compare it to before. I don’t like it when people ask me questions like that and I want to believe in what I’m seeing. There can be spectacular performances without doping.”
Sky’s apparent fragility, with the team now relying on six teammates for Froome for the remainder of the Tour with Edvald Boasson Hagen out with a broken scapula on stage 12 and Vasili Kiryienka lost due to the time cut on stage 10, was quashed on Sunday with Peter Kennaugh and Richie Porte putting the hammer down on the climb to Ventoux. For LeMond, it was a performance that was reminiscent of the Renault-Elf team that he rode with between 1981 and 1984.
“You can’t forget this is a team competition and this is a great team,” he said. “On the Tour in 1984, with Cyrille Guimard who was for me the best athletic director at the time, the team won 10 stages. Laurent Fignon won the Tour and I finished third. Sky reminds me of my old Renault-Elf team.”