Chris Froome feeling good as he holds yellow jersey on Tour de France rest day

Chris Froome feeling good as he holds yellow jersey on Tour de France rest day
By PA Sport

11/07/2016 at 11:42Updated 11/07/2016 at 12:33

Chris Froome cut a relaxed figure as he enjoyed the familiar feeling of holding the yellow jersey on the first rest day of the Tour de France.

The Team Sky rider led at this point in 2013 and 2015 on his way to glory in Paris, and is there again as he leads by 16 seconds from fellow Brit Adam Yates of Orica-BikeExchange.

Carrying yellow brings its own pressures and obligations, but the 31-year-old appeared entirely comfortable as the riders enjoyed an easier day of it in Andorra.

"I think it really is a good place to be at the moment," Froome said. "I'm really happy to have the yellow on my shoulders. For morale and for the team, but also tactically, it puts the shoe on the other foot because the other teams have to go out and have to gain back time they've lost already."

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford has noticed a difference in the way his star man is handling himself.

"Chris has matured a lot since he first competed for the Tour de France," he said. "He's a lot more comfortable with you guys, he's more comfortable with himself. He's really matured. He's enjoying his racing as much as anybody. He's not lost anything performance-wise but he's just relaxed and got comfortable with everything that goes with it."

Quite apart from the defensive tactics needed on the road and the media obligations off it, carrying yellow has in the past meant for Froome a barrage of unsubstantiated allegations and rumours about doping.

Although Froome had a close encounter with a Colombian fan running alongside the riders on Saturday, earning a 200 Swiss franc fine for punching him out of the way, there has been a noticeably different atmosphere in the race.

"The atmosphere out on the road has been fantastic and the crowds have been great," he said. "None of that silly nonsense we had last year at all so far and I hope it stays that way."

With the Pyrenees almost in the rear view mirror - the riders must ascend the Port d'Envalira on their way back to France on Tuesday morning - Froome is already looking ahead to some significant challenges to come.

On Thursday, Bastille Day, the Tour will head up the feared Mont Ventoux - scene of a big victory for Froome in 2013.

"Ventoux was kind to me, but when I got to the top last time I had to get straight on to oxygen support I was so tired," Froome said. "It's a massive climb, one of the most iconic of this race and to win up there again would be unreal.

"But it's going to be pretty hard knowing there's a time trial the next day. It will be interesting to see who is going to go that deep for victory up there."

Froome won on the Tour's first summit finish in each of his previous wins, but this year he took yellow with a surprise attack on the descent into Bagneres-de-Luchon on Saturday before concentrating on marking his rivals a day later on the road up to Andorre Arcalis.

He may be in yellow but not by a significant margin, with 10 others within 61 seconds - including fellow pre-race favourite Nairo Quintana who is fourth, 23 seconds back.

Many expected the Colombian to attack on Sunday's summit finish, but instead he just followed Froome all the way to the finish.

"Good question," Froome said when asked why no move came from the Movistar rider. "It would be interesting to find out from him. I was expecting an attack and was always keeping something in reserve waiting for his big move, but it never came."

"Maybe he couldn't," interjected team-mate Geraint Thomas. "Just throwing it out there."