July 12, 2016

REVEL, France (AP) Chris Froome had a relatively comfortable and quiet day in the yellow jersey.

The overall leader in the Tour de France finished safely in the peloton with all of his main rivals on Tuesday, nearly 10 minutes behind stage winner Michael Matthews of Australia.

''I wouldn't quite say easy. The start was pretty much straight up with a 22-kilometer (14-mile) climb,'' Froome said after the 10th stage. ''But once we dropped down from there it was pretty straightforward.''

Aiming for his third Tour victory in four years, Froome maintained a 16-second lead over fellow British rider Adam Yates.

Dan Martin of Ireland was third overall, 19 seconds behind, and Nairo Quintana of Colombia was fourth, 23 seconds back.

A two-time runner-up to Froome at the Tour, Quintana was watched carefully by Froome amid thick fog on the tricky descent from Port d'Envalira, the highest road in the Pyrenees at 2,408 meters (7,900 feet), and the highest point in this Tour.

''With that mist and not being able to see much, it could have been like the Giro a few years ago when Quintana slipped off the front,'' Froome said, referring to Quintana's downhill attack en route to his Giro d'Italia victory in 2014. ''I was just keeping an eye on him.''

Froome's Sky teammates made sure that none of his rivals got in the early breakaway that included Matthews.

''The guys did a great job keeping me up front just in case things were to kick off. We were right there and ready for it if it did happen,'' Froome said. ''Tomorrow, we're hoping for a similar day to today, another day we can tick off and get through without too much happening. Ventoux is definitely the next big thing we have our sights on now.''

After a mostly flat Stage 11, the next mountain-top finish comes on Thursday, Bastille Day, at the legendary Mont Ventoux. A day later, the race's first time trial is over a hilly 37.5-kilometer (23.3 mile) course.

''Those are going to be two really important days for us,'' Froome said. ''Nairo has already said he wants to win on Ventoux so we can expect they're going to give everything for that cause.''

Froome was also asked about mechanical doping, amid unprecedented checks for tiny, hidden motors in bikes.

''The more checks they do, the better everyone sleeps at night,'' Froome said. ''Someone would have to be pretty crazy to do it in the Tour de France, where they know they'll check for it every day.''


Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf

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