CHAMBERY, France (AP) — Chris Froome in all probability hoped he had a much bigger lead than his 18-second benefit over Fabio Aru on the Tour de France’s first relaxation day.

Not less than he is nonetheless in a single piece, although.

Richie Porte, Froome’s most feared opponent, and Geraint Thomas, Froome’s most loyal help rider at Workforce Sky, each crashed out of the race on Sunday.

With Colombian climbing specialist Nairo Quintana and seven-time Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador dropping out of rivalry, it appears there’s solely a handful of riders remaining who can nonetheless problem Froome for the title in Paris on July 23.

Aru, the Italian champion and 2015 Spanish Vuelta winner, leads the record adopted carefully by final yr’s runner-up Romain Bardet, the Frenchman who’s third general, 51 seconds again.

Rigoberto Uran, the Colombian who was a two-time runner-up within the Giro d’Italia, is fourth at 55 seconds and Aru’s Astana teammate, Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark, is fifth at 1:37.

The one different rider inside two minutes of Froome is Dan Martin, the Irish bike owner who excels on the shorter, steeper climbs which might be so prevalent on this yr’s race.

“I mentioned (Saturday) that I anticipated the final classification to be blown up and it, it has,” Froome mentioned. “It is much more unfold out now.”

Froome and the opposite 181 riders nonetheless within the three-week race flew throughout the nation late Sunday to southwestern France, the place after Monday’s relaxation day the race resumes with two flat levels suited to sprinters.

The general battle in all probability will not see any adjustments till the race enters the Pyrenees Thursday and Friday with 16-percent slopes to the Peyragudes ski station and 18-percent stretches on the Mur de Peguere.

After some milder climbing within the Massif Central the Tour returns to the Alps for the so-called “Queen stage” — an unprecedented mountain-top end on the Col d’Izoard.

The hostile terrain of sun- and snow-scorched rocks and the thinning mountain air on the lengthy climb to an altitude of two,360 meters (7,742 toes) may make the Izoard, on the finish of stage 18, the scene of the final main contest between the remaining favorites.

Aiming to safe his fourth title in 5 years, Froome possible wants solely the slimmest of margins — or perhaps a small deficit — getting into the 22.5-kilometer (14-mile) time trial within the Mediterranean port metropolis of Marseille on the penultimate stage 20.

An excellent time trialer, Froome ought to be capable of take time on all of his rivals within the race towards the clock — identical to he did in Stage 1.

Whoever wears yellow on the finish of the day in Marseille will cruise across the Champs-Elysees within the principally ceremonial last leg a day later and decide up the trophy.

Proper now, although, it is all about restoration for Froome and the opposite leaders after Sunday’s punishing mountain leg.

Relaxation days, nevertheless, aren’t only for resting.

Nearly each rider will exit and prepare for an hour or two Monday simply to maintain their our bodies from shutting down.

Cannondale-Drapac group supervisor Jonathan Vaughters defined that the method to relaxation days is not actually understood scientifically as a result of there haven’t been sufficient research of elite riders performing three-week races.

“So what you are doing relies on idea and anecdote. The pure science would say, ‘Keep in mattress all day and do not transfer.’ However that does not work,” Vaughters mentioned. “It is the identical as turning the engine off. You simply cannot get it began once more.

“It is like finding out onerous for exams. You are tremendous, tremendous, tremendous. You then take the examination and get dwelling from the examination after which the following day you will have the flu,” Vaughters mentioned. “You are like, ‘Now I can relaxation.’ After which growth, you are sick.”

Copyright 2017 The Related Press. All rights reserved. This materials might not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.