Tour de France: Wiggins closes in on maiden title
By Julien Pretot
PEYRAGUDES, France (Reuters) - Bradley Wiggins closed in on a maiden Tour de France title on Thursday but had to deal with controversial behavior from team mate Chris Froome which some saw as patronizing on the final mountain stage.
Spaniard Alejandro Valverde won the 17th stage, with Froome coming home second 19 seconds back and ahead of Wiggins who retained the overall leader's yellow jersey with a lead of two minutes five seconds over his Sky team mate.
Froome looked the stronger of the two Britons on the final climb to Peyragudes and could not resist pulling ahead several times, leaving Wiggins stranded, before conspicuously looking back and gesturing to his compatriot to keep up.
"I do not like what Froome did. It could devalue Wiggins's victory," said Laurent Jalabert a former world champion and Vuelta winner.
With the Tour title almost in the bag, a gracious Wiggins, who looks poised to become the first Briton to triumph on the French roads, would not be drawn into a controversy.
"Chris said he wanted to go for the stage and I said yes. We weren't too sure of the time gaps," said Wiggins.
"The moment we crossed the Peyresourde, I allowed myself to drift and that was the first time I thought maybe I've won the Tour today.
"All the way up that last climb my concentration had gone, everything about my performance had gone. Chris was egging me on...and I was in another world, really." Continued...