Chris Froome survived a brutal early onslaught from his Tour de France rivals to retain the yellow jersey after an epic ninth stage won by Ireland’s Dan Martin on Sunday.
Having destroyed the field to snatch the overall lead in Saturday’s opening mountain stage ahead of fellow Team Sky rider Richie Porte, the Briton had exposed himself to retaliation.
The Garmin-Sharp, Movistar and Saxo-Tinkoff teams blew the peloton apart in the first of five climbs on a searing hot day in the Pyrenees ahead of the rest day, with Froome soon finding himself isolated.
The moves eliminated Froome’s lieutenant Porte, who lost his second place, and restored hope among other teams that the Tour was not over yet.
Overall, Froome leads Spaniard Alejandro Valverde by 1:25 while Porte, who finished 17:59 behind, dropped well outside the top 20 as hopes of a second consecutive Team Sky one-two evaporated.Froome, however, had an answer for every attack from Valverde’s Movistar team mates.