Zakarin wins grueling Alpine stage, Froome extends Tour lead

But today should kick-off four days of attacks from the GC contenders; Adam Yates (Orica BikeExchange) spoke about his desire to attack Froome in the final days, and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who is almost three minutes down on the Briton also admitted he and his team is looking to attack Froome in the remaining stages.

Froome, who now just has three real stages to negotiate before claiming a third Tour title on Sunday, credited his hard-working team on what was a scorching day in the Alps. "I thought Quintana was the one who was going to go, so I sat on his wheel", he added.

"I think the race has been that hard".

The stage started in Bern following the second and final rest day and featured two major climbs in the final 30 kilometres: Col de la Forclaz, a 13-kilometre climb with an average gradient of 7.9 per cent, and the brutal beyond-category 10.4-kilometre ascent to the finish line.

It leaves Quintana down by two team-mates in his bid to dethrone current race leader Chris Froome, whose Sky team remains at full-strength.

Zakarin, who was suspended in 2009 for two years after testing positive for the forbidden anabolic methandienone, finished 55 seconds ahead of Pantano.

Yates, now third in the standings and in possession of the white jersey, said: "Why not?"

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"This result is not a surprise for me, in the first week I also tried to go for it", said Zakarin, who fractured a collarbone earlier this year at the Giro d'Italia after crashing in a downhill. I didn't need to pull.

"I spoke with the sports director this morning, he said, 'just use your head".

Froome had more team-mates in the lead group than anyone else and Wouter Poels in particular was exceptionally strong, chasing down every attack until Australian Porte managed to make one stick.

After Rafal Majka and Jarlinson Pantano moved away from the leading pack on the descent of Col de la Forclaz, the Russian cyclist caught them and launched a furious attack on the last climb with about 41/2 miles left.

Tomorrow will see a 17km individual mountain time trial from Sallanches to Megeve. I'm not following the news.

"For me it is already quite a stressful time (being in the Tour)", he said as his team manager, Olympic triple gold medallist Viatcheslav Ekimov, translated.

The Katusha rider was the only Russian to start the Tour, and his victory comes just two days after Richard McLaren's explosive report on state-directed cheating in the country. "At Katusha, we perform additional testing, and follow all protocols". "With me, I have riders who would be leaders in other teams".

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