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Emergency mechanic Kwiatkowski a wheel help to Tour leader Froome

Emergency mechanic Kwiatkowski a wheel help to Tour leader Froome

Chris Froome expressed gratitude to his team-mates after he recovered from a "stressful moment" which he feared could have cost him the yellow jersey on stage 15 of the Tour de France.

Froome lost almost a minute due to a damaged wheel before the climb of the Col de Peyra Taillade, presenting general classification rivals Fabio Aru (Astana) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) with a great opportunity.

Michal Kwiatkowski turned mechanic by removing his back wheel and fitting it onto colleague Froome's bike, rather than wait for a Team Sky car.

Mikel Nieve and Sergio Henao helped race leader Froome to re-join the peloton and maintain his 18-point advantage over Aru with a rest day to recover on Monday following a dramatic stage, which was won by Bauke Mollema.

"It was a stressful moment. I wasn't sure if I'd get back on again," the Brit said.

"AG2R rode their race and rode fast. Just before the climb, I had a problem with my back wheel, it was damaged. Kwiatkowski gave me his wheel because the team car was stuck behind. I gave it my maximum to get back up to the leaders.

"I've got to thanks my team-mates yet again for helping me. Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve gave their maximum. [Mikel] Landa, too. He helped me a lot on the climb."

Froome laid down the gauntlet to his GC rivals after they were unable to make the most of his misfortune on Sunday.

"It's up to my rivals to attack me. They have to gain time before the time trial. For now, I'm just happy to have the jersey and to have a rest day tomorrow." he added.