CHORGES, France — Winning more stages in this Tour de France doesn't interest Chris Froome, who is focused on protecting his overall lead during the next three days of grueling climbing in the Alps.
He already has three Tour stage wins after beating two-time champion Alberto Contador by 9 seconds on Wednesday to win the time trial in Stage 17.
Froome is four days from becoming the second consecutive British rider to win cycling's premier race, following Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins' success last year. Froome leads the second-place Contador by 4 minutes, 34 seconds — a sizeable advantage that gives him some margin for error in the Alps.
"I'm just looking to keep the yellow jersey, not to win any more stages," Froome said. "Alberto's shown time and time again that he's a rider to be reckoned with. He's going to keep pushing me every day."
Froome was slower than Contador on the first part of the undulating 20-mile course, from Embrun to Chorges in the French Alps. But he made a crucial bike change midway through to gain time.
"That bike change really made the difference," Froome said.
Froome, who has also won two mountain stages, made up for last week when he was edged out by Tony Martin in the first time-trial in Stage 11 — even though he didn't expect to win this one.
"I went into today thinking: 'OK, I'm going to give this a really good shot,' but I'm not going to empty myself in respect of what's coming up (in the mountains,)" Froome said. "I'm over the moon with the result. I really expected to lose at least 30 seconds to a minute."