Above: Highlights as Froome struggles on Stage 13
Chris Froome has admitted Team Sky are missing Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France as he fights to retain the yellow jersey.
Wiggins, who last year became the first ever British winner of the Tour, pulled out of this year's race with a knee problem after seeing his hopes of winning this year's Giro d'Italia ended by a combination of illness and injury.
Prior to his withdrawal Wiggins had suggested he would rather try to defend his title than help Froome and his absence seemed like the best solution, but perspectives have changed with injury striking Sky's Tour squad and Froome's lead now under threat.
"All the teams have lost one or two guys along the way somewhere," Froome told Sky News. "It's very rare to get this far in the race without having lost someone. That's the nature of the Tour de France. The crashes the guys are having are usually pretty serious and there are a lot of broken bones.
"Brad won the Tour de France last year and he's got a big engine. Having him would have definitely upped our ranks. Both in the mountains and the flats, he's quite a versatile rider in that respect."
While Froome was seeing 69 seconds of his advantage over Alberto Contador being wiped out amid strong crosswinds on yesterday's stage 13 to Saint-Amond-Montrond, Wiggins was training alone in Majorca.
Froome has already lost two members of his team, with Vasili Kiryienka eliminated for missing a time cut and Edvald Boasson Hagen suffering a broken shoulder on stage 12 to Tours.
There are also question marks over the form of Richie Porte, while Geraint Thomas continues to ride on a cracked pelvis.
However, team principal Sir Dave Brailsford believes Froome - who leads by two minutes and 28 seconds from Belkin's Bauke Mollema with Contador lurking close behind in third - remains the man to beat.
"He's in great shape and he's proven that already," he said. "Obviously in the time trial he performed very very well and in the climbs he's looked the best. Now it's about paying attention and making sure we don't lose any more time unnecessarily."
Froome has faced several questions about doping since taking yellow, but maintains the sport has moved on from its dark days.
"I really do believe the sport has come a long way in these last 10 years from the Lance Armstrong days," he said. "From what I've seen personally I don't feel that I would be able to sitting here in the yellow jersey if doping was still happening."
And while he still has much defending to do, Froome is allowing himself the occasional thought of victory in Paris.
"It would be everything to be in that position and to get to the Champs Elysees in the yellow jersey," he said. "It's been such a journey for me to get here and to the top of our sport. I'd die a happy man."