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Chris Froome admits illness left him 'hanging on' at the Tour de France

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Chris Froome admits he struggled with illness in the closing stages of the Tour de France

Chris Froome has revealed he would have liked to have gone on the attack in the Tour de France’s final mountain stages in the Alps but was left “hanging on” by a bout of illness.

The Team Sky rider went into the final weekend of the three-week race with a 3min 10sec advantage but saw that cut to a final winning margin of 1min 12sec after runner-up Nairo Quintana launched a ferocious late fightback.

Speaking immediately after the race in “Chris Froome: Back In Yellow”, a one-hour documentary to be screened on Sky Sports 1 at 10pm on Sunday, the 30-year-old Briton admitted the summit finishes on stages 19 and 20 had been a “battle” against not just Quintana, but also his health.

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Watch the Chris Froome: Back In Yellow trailer

He said: “Part of me thought that I might be able to get to the Alps and still do some more damage at that point.

“But unfortunately on the second rest day [after stage 16],I started to come down with a bit of a chesty cough. I have got asthma and my airways were closing up a little bit. I won’t lie, the last few days, I have really been battling, just hanging on.

“I have basically just been looking at that three minute advantage that I have had and thinking, ‘Right, I’m just going to defend that the best I can now’.”

Chris Froome, Tour de France 2015, stage 20, Alpe d'Huez
Image: Froome was exhausted at stage 20's summit finish in Alpe d'Huez

A third element Froome had to overcome to win the yellow jersey for the second time in his career was doubts over the legitimacy of his performances and physical abuse from a sceptical crowd.

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The worst instances saw him spat on and have urine thrown at him, while team-mate Richie Porte was punched during one of the Pyrenean stages.

Froome reacted angrily at times during the race but insists he is comfortable with the pressures that come with being leader of the Tour.

Chris Froome, Tour de France, stage 21, Paris, podium, Champs-Elysees
Image: Froome's final winning margin was 1min 12sec

He added: “It is a lot to take on it is a lot to process from my point of view. I feel as if nothing has really changed; I’m still the same guy who just enjoys riding his bike every day.

“But, of course, I’m in this position now where, especially the cycling of 2015, where we need people to be spokesmen for the sport, especially given the position I’m in, in the yellow jersey, I think I do have quite a responsibility on my shoulders to fill that role.

Chris Froome, Tour de France, stage 19
Image: Froome won the Tour for the second time in his career

“It is difficult. I take a lot of criticism, I put up with a lot, but to be honest, it is a lot easier when of course I know I have nothing to hide.

“It’s a no-brainer for me: I have got nothing really to stress about and I think that’s probably been one of the reasons why I have been able to put up with so much along the way.”

Watch “Chris Froome: Back In Yellow” on Sky Sports 1 at 10pm on Sunday.

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