tour de france
The pack of riders cycles during stage 17 of the Tour de France 2016Reuters

Four stages remain in the Tour de France 2016 and the general classification leaders have a massive chance now to make their mark as the remaining stages are contested in the mountains. Defending champion and current yellow jersey winner Chris Froome remains the favourite, but even the 31-year-old cyclist will admit that he will be facing some steep competition now. 

Stage 18 of the tour sees the riders competing in a mountain time trial. In the history of Tour de France, only 17 out of 206 individual time trials have been contested uphill and the occasion thus marks a special importance for the tour this year.

The riders will be embarking on a 17 km journey on Thursday from Sallanches in the Haute-Savoie department of France to Megeve in the Rhone-Alpes region of south-eastern France.

One of the highlights of the stage is that there is no descent midway and it only gets uphill as the race progresses. Movistar's Nairo Quintana remains one of the contenders to bag the stage honours, apart from Froome, and they could also be set for a tough competition from time trial specialist Tom Dumoulin, who already bagged the mountainous Stage 10 earlier in the tour as well as the previous time trial of the race in Stage 13.

Froome is aware that even a slight falter will see him lose the yellow jersey. "I think it's about dealing with being in this position, being in the yellow jersey, sitting in press conferences every day," the Briton said after stage 17 of the tour.

"For me, I've definitely become a lot more used to being here. Obviously, the first time you're in this position it feels a bit daunting, it's a bit of extra pressure, but this is the third time with this experience for me, and it does feel slightly easier. I'm certainly more relaxed in that sense."

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