Froome defends yellow jersey at Tour de France after a brutal stage

Chris Froome battled through torrential rain on the first summit finish of the Tour de France to maintain his 16-second lead at the top of the General Classification.

Froome saw off attacks from Dan Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step), Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) and Richie Porte (BMC) on the final climb of stage nine to finish at the head of the GC group, closely followed by Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Speaking after the 185km stage a soaking wet Froome admitted that it had been a gruelling couple of days in the saddle.

He said: “That was a tough old day out there. It was really hard yesterday and then another tough day today. Going from pretty extreme heat, really hot, stuffy weather, to 10 degrees and a hailstorm at the finish – that made it quite a difficult day too.

“I’m really happy with that though. It would have been nice to take a bit more time and have more of a buffer in the yellow jersey but all in all I’m really happy going into the first rest day in yellow.”

And Froome was quick to heap praise onto his team-mates, who led the peloton from start to finish across every one of the day’s five categorised climbs.

He added: “I’ve got a fantastic team around me and the guys have done everything. They’ve ridden from start to finish almost every day now. I couldn’t be in a better place.”