Stephen Roche predicts Alpine fireworks over the coming days as Bradley Wiggins' Tour de France lead is set to come under attack - and anticipates the race leader's Team Sky colleague and fellow Briton Chris Froome could be the major beneficiary.
Even though Froome's primary role is to support Wiggins' Tour bid, if the Team Sky leader is unable to follow an attack in the Alps this week, the Kenyan-born Brit could find himself reluctantly overtaking his team-mate in the overall standings.
Victory in the stage nine time-trial saw Wiggins take a commanding lead of one minute 53 seconds in the yellow jersey over defending champion Cadel Evans into today's rest day ahead of tomorrow's resumption on the 194.5-kilometre 10th stage from Macon to Bellegard-sur-Valserine, the first Alpine stage.
Evans is 14 seconds ahead of Froome, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) 2mins 23secs adrift in fourth.
Hotchillee ambassador Roche, the 1987 Tour winner, told Press Association Sport: "The Tour's not over yet for anybody - it's going to be very interesting.
"Guys like Nibali and Cadel Evans are going to have to attack now if they're going to get time back."
Roche predicts Froome could triumph ahead of odds-on favourite Wiggins in the Tour, with the pair relatively equal in the time-trial format - a 53.3km test awaits on the penultimate stage - but Froome a more dynamic climber.
The Irishman may be trying to be different - saying: "you have to take a bit of risk in life and hold on to a bit of suspense" - but there is reason for his argument that Froome could be the first British Tour winner.
"The Alps and Pyrenees are going to have fireworks," Roche added.
"Froome has a little bit of an upper hand on Bradley in the mountains. If (Frank) Schleck, for example, or Nibali attack in the mountains, Froome could go with them.
"Bradley has a very strong, thick elastic and it stretches on the attacks on the climbs.
"He's a diesel climber and he can go with attacks by keeping the tempo high and clawing it back.
"I don't know how many blows Bradley could take without cracking, but Froome can go with them."
One of the many challenges facing Wiggins is the daily duties required of the race leader, including the podium presentation and a stream of media interviews.
Wiggins responded with an expletive-laden rant after stage eight, his first day in the maillot jaune, when questioned about doping.
Roche added: "I do understand - it is frustrating to be in a situation like Bradley's, but we should be able to hold back and be courteous in the situation.
"We have a certain role to play as a role model for kids."
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