The Tour de France peloton take a well deserved second rest day on Monday with race leader Chris Froome holding over a four-minute advantage on his closest rivals for the overall title.
With six days of racing left – and most of those stages favour the Team Sky leader, many a Froome fan believes it’s already game over for the rest.
But it’s not an opinion shared by all – notably those linked with the race.
Race director Christian Prudhomme said: ‘‘No of course it’s not over, He’s in the best postion but he will have to face his opponents and his team is not as strong as the one that helped bradley Wiggins to victory last year.
Five-time Tour winner Eddy Merckx said: “It is true that when you lose teammates such as Edvald Boasson Hagen or Vasil Kiryienka it puts you at a disadvantage. But in the end it depends on the cyclists. I think that in the Alps everyone will be alone and need help from god.”
2010 Tour winner Andy Schleck said: “Chris Froome is not the problem. My problem is that there are around twenty other riders ahead of me. So I have bigger problems.”
Seven-time king of the mountains Richard Virenque said: “Chris Froome had a very strong team at the start of the Tour but Sky is getting more and more tired as every kilometre goes by and now Froome is pretty alone. That’s a good thing as the race is still very open.”
Alone or not Froome is on the verge of a maiden Tour title.
Following his awe-inspiring victory on top of the Mont Ventoux on Sunday, he is 4 minutes and 14 seconds clear of Dutch rider Bauke Mollema ahead of Tuesday’s short 168km ride to Gap.