Froome unstoppable at Tour de France

02:09, Jul 11 2013
Marcel Kittel
Marcel Kittel reacts as he crosses the line to win the first stage of the Tour de France.
Marcel Kittel
First stage winner Marcel Kittel (left) is congratulated by team-mate John Degenkolb.
Tour de France
The peleton sets out at the start of the first stage.
Tour de France
Riders at the front of the peleton head up a rise.
Tour de France
The peleton begins stage one in Porto Vecchio.
Tour de France
Riders head past a beach in Porto Vecchio on the island of Corsica.
Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador of Spain rides with his Saxo-Tinkoff team.
Tour de France bus
The Orica-Greenedge team bus collides with the finishing banner prior to the race arriving at the end of stage one.
Jan Bakelants gallery
Jan Bakelants of Belgium and Radioshack Leopard celebrates on the podium as he wears the yellow jersey after winning stage two.
Tour de France gallery
Cycling jerseys are hung in a line to greet cyclists in the city of Corte during the156 km second stage of the centenary Tour de France cycling race from Bastia to Ajaccio.
Tour de France gallery
The peloton rides through the countryside during stage two of the 2013 Tour de France, a 156KM road stage from Bastia to Ajaccio.
Tour de France gallery
The pack of riders cycles on its way during the 156 km second stage of the centenary Tour de France cycling race from Bastia to Ajaccio, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.
Jan Bakelants gallery
Jan Bakelants of Belgium and Radioshack Leopard crosses the finishing line to win stage two.
Orica GreenEdge
Orica GreenEdge riders head along the Promenade de Anglais during the team time-trial during stage four of the Tour de France.
Saxo Tinkoff
Saxo Tinkoff riders compete in stage four in Nice.
Nice beach
Riders head along Promenade de Anglais in Nice.
Team Garmin-Sharp
Team Garmin-Sharp rides compete in the 25km team time-trial fourth stage.
Team Lotto Belisol
Team Lotto Belisol head around the streets of Nice, in the south of France.
Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the line to win stage five of the 100th Tour de France.
Ted King
Cannondale rider Ted King speaks to reporters after Tour de France organisers pulled him from the race.
Chris Froome
Chris Froome leads Team Sky at the front of the peloton during the fifth stage.
Simon Gerrans
Simon Gerrans has the number on his back fixed by an Orica-GreenEdge team member.
Tour de France
The main bunch passes by a moutain-side town in the French countryside.
Tour de France
Tour de France spectators, dressed as superheroes Batman and Robin, run alongside riders.
Christian Vande Velde
Christian Vande Velde is treated after a crash during the seventh stage from Montpellier.
Tour de France
Riders stack on top of each other after a crash on a small bridge during stage seven.
Tour de France
The peloton heads through the French countryside.
Tour de France
Riders head off on the 205km seventh stage from Montpellier to Albi.
Peter Sagan
Peter Sagan
Chris Froome
Chris Froome raises his arm after winning stage eight by 51 seconds.
Chris Froome
Team Sky's Chris Froome puts on the yellow jersey after stage eight.
Tour de France
Team Sky riders pass through the French countryside on stage eight.
Tour de France
Team Omega Pharma-Quick Step readers read newspapers before the start of the stage.
Tour de France
Team Sky, led by Richie Porte, make their way up an ascent.
Tour de France 2013
The peleton are cheered on by the crowd during stage nine.
Tour de France 2013
Stage nine winner Dan Martin of the Garmin-Sharp team crosses the finish line.
Tour de France 2013
Riders tackle the Val Louron-Azet pass during stage nine of the Tour de France.
Tour de France 2013
Ride set off for stage nine of the Tour de France.
Geraint Thomas
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas heads out on the 33km individual time trial.
Marcel Kittel
German Marcel Kittel, who won stage 10, relaxes before the start of stage 11.
Chris Froome
Yellow jersey holder Chris Froome races during the individual time trial.
Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador grimaces as he heads to the finish of stage 11.
Tony Martin
German rider Tony Martin climbs on the podium after winning stage 11.
Marcel Kittel
Marcel Kittel (right) beats Mark Cavendish across the line to win stage 12.
Chris Froome
Tour de France spectators hold a sign in support of leader Chris Froome.
Team Sky
Team Sky riders, including yellow jersey holder Chris Froome, lead the peloton.
Brett Lancaster
Brett Lancaster receives assistance from a crew member during the 12th stage.
Arthur Vichot
A banana hangs out of the back pocket of Arthur Vichot.
Daniele Bennati
Daniele Bennati of Team Saxo-Tinkoff gets in aerodynamic position during a descent on stage 13.
Jose Joaquin Rojas
Jose Joaquin Rojas takes a glance back at the chasing bunch.
Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharmac-Quick Step raises his arms as he crosses the line to win stage 13.
Tour de France peloton
The Tour de France peloton head through a village during the 13th stage.
Alberto Contador and Michael Rogers
Alberto Contador (right) and Michael Rogers (left) of Team Saxo-Tinkoff chat with Team Radioshack Leopard's Haimar Zubeldia.
Matteo Trentin
Matteo Trentin reacts as he claims the 14th stage win for Omega Pharma-Quick Step.
Tour de France
The breakaway group passes by a field during the 14th stage.
Tour de France
The Tour de France peloton arrive at a village during stage 14.
Tour de France
The 14th stage breakaway group ride through a feed station.
Arthur Vichot and Luis Angel Mate Mardonnes
Arthur Vichot (right) and Luis Angel Mate Mardonnes attempt to make a breakaway.
Tour de France
The peloton rides past a field of sunflowers during stage 15 of the 2013 Tour de France, a 242.5km road stage from Givors to Mont Ventoux.
Tour de France
Peter Kennaugh of Great Britain and SKY Procycling rides at the front of the peloton during stage 15.
Tour de France
Yellow jersey holder Chris Froome approaches the finish line to win stage 15.
Tour de France
Rui Costa of Portugal and Movistar Team tries to launch an attack at the front of the peloton during stage 15.
Chris Froome
Tour leader Chris Froome takes a sip from his water bottle during stage 16.
Rui Costa
Rui Costa's solo break paid off as he claimed the 16th stage.
Rui Costa
Team Movistar's Rui Costa grinds his way up an incline.
Tour de France
Team Sky lead the peloton during the Tour de France's 16th stage.
Tour de France
A spectator draws on the road during a mountainous stage.
Chris Froome
Chris Froome powers his way to victory in the 32km individual time trial, the 17th stage.
Mark Cavendish
Briton Mark Cavendish rides over a Union Jack painted on the road.
David Millar
Team Garmin Sharp's David Millar rides past spectators at the top of a climb.
Haimar Zubeldia
Haimar Zubeldia makes his way up a climb as heavy rain falls.
Tour de France spectators
Spectators often turn the Tour de France into a Halloween party.
Nelson Mandela
Tour de France riders wait behind a large picture of former South African president Nelson Mandela on his 95th birthday.
Andy Schleck
Team Radioshack's Andy Schleck speaks with reporters ahead of stage 18.
Chris Froome and Richie Porte
EXTENDING LEAD: Chris Froome gets a pat on the back from team-mate Richie Porte, who supported the Tour leader up the second l'Alpe d'Huez climb on Stage 18.
Christophe Riblon
Christophe Riblon of Team AG2R La Mondiale shows his exhaustion after crossing the line at the top of l'Alpe d'Huez.
Tour de France
The view that greets riders near the top of the l'Alpe d'Huez ascent.
Rui Costa
Rui Costa holds up two fingers as he wins his second stage of the Tour de France.
Alberto Contador
Alberto Contador sprints to the line in stage 19.
Portugal spectator
A spectator holds a Portugal flag with 'Rui Costa' written on it.
Tour de France
Riders in the peloton head up an incline during the 19th stage.
Tour de France
Riders head up two major climbs during the 204km 19th stage.
Jack Bauer
Kiwi Jack Bauer is in agony after falling from his bike into a barbed-wire fence during the 19th stage of the Tour de France.
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Nairo Quintana of Colombia and Movistar Team celebrates winning stage 20.
Tour de France
Chris Froome celebrates on the podium as he secures the leader's yellow jersey after stage 20.
Tour de France
The pack of riders cycle during the 125 km stage from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz.
Tour de France
The pack of riders cycle during the 125 km stage from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz.
2013 Tour de France
Chris Froome of Great Britain and SKY Procycling ride in the main pack through the streets of Paris.
2013 Tour de France
The main pack rides past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
2013 Tour de France
The Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees Avenue are illuminated with the colour of Tour de France winner: yellow.
2013 Tour de France
The riders cycle on the banks of the Seine river past the Eiffel Tower on the final stage of the Tour de France.

Halfway through the Tour de France, Chris Froome appears unstoppable after pulverizing his main rivals in the time trial.

Although Froome missed out on his second stage win of the centenary Tour by 12 seconds to winner Tony Martin of Germany, second place on stage 11 still felt like a big victory for the British rider since all of his challengers were at least two minutes slower than him.

"My biggest race today was with the other GC riders," Froome said. "I've extended my lead so I'm very happy with that."

Chris Froome
LEAD EXTENDED: Halfway through the Tour de France, Chris Froome appears unstoppable.

Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde is still in second place overall but 3 minutes, 25 seconds adrift of Froome, while Alberto Contador improved to fourth but is 3:54 behind.

Meanwhile, the 2010 Tour champ Andy Schleck and 2011 winner Cadel Evans lost massive time and may not want to look at the results.

"I'm happy with my shape," Froome said. "I think I've shown in the mountains that I can hold my own, and time trial also."

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As the two-time world time trial champion, Martin did not disappoint over the 33-kilometer (20.5-mile) route in Normandy from Avranches to the breathtaking island citadel of Mont-Saint-Michel.

"Hats off to Tony Martin," Froome said. "It just goes to show what class he has."

Froome was quicker over the first two time splits but slowed down in the last section and Martin won in just over 36 minutes.

"I'm not sad at all with that," said Froome, who also finished second behind countryman Bradley Wiggins on last year's longer time trial. "I gave that time trial everything I had."

He was the only rider to get within a minute of Martin, with Belgian Thomas De Gendt 1:01 behind in third.

Martin's win was even more special considering that he lost consciousness on his team bus after his heavy crash on stage 1. The accident was so bad that his left lung was bruised and layers of skin were shredded off his back.

"At night, I couldn't sleep either on my left or right sides or on my back," Martin said.

He was not the only one having sleepless nights.

His mother Bettina Martin said at the finish line of his first-day crash, "I was very shocked, very worried, and needed a long time before I was back to normal again."

Still, nothing would deter Martin, who won the penultimate stage of the 2011 Tour, also a time trial, and finished second to Wiggins in the time trial at the London Olympics.

"The goal was always to continue the Tour de France because it's a big honor," Martin said. "When doctors said 'OK,' I kept the focus on today's stage. I knew I would not be 100 percent for the team time trial (last week), but I had a good chance to recover for today.

"There are still some deeper wounds that are left to heal but it's not that painful anymore."

Others had a more painful day.

Contador looked stern-faced and tense when he prepared to start - and with good reason. The Spaniard finished in 15th place, 2:15 behind Martin; Evans was 2:30 slower, and Schleck finished 4:44 behind Martin.

"No one's won the Tour de France yet and no one's lost it. We have to get to Paris yet," Contador said, perhaps more in hope than conviction. "Chris Froome is in impressive form and is a great climber, but there are still many stages left."

Even though Evans is 6:54 behind Froome in 14th place, he has not given up, either.

"I think we will get a few chances," the Australian said. "In the last four days (of the race) we will give everything."

The team of Mark Cavendish, winner of the fifth stage, believes someone threw urine at the British rider along the route.

"To do something disrespectful like that is really sad and ruins the whole atmosphere," Froome said.

Thursday's 12th stage is one of two consecutive flat days for sprinters, taking the riders on a 218-kilometer (135.5-mile) route from Fougeres to Tours in the Loire valley, a picturesque region peppered with imposing, ancient chateaux, and vineyards.

Froome will already be thinking of Sunday's daunting ascent up Mont Ventoux - another chance to crush his wilting rivals.

AP