Defending champion willing to give up chance of record-equalling fifth victory in favour of current race leader and Sky team mate

Chris Froome has pledged to support Geraint Thomas as the Welshman enters the last week of the Tour de France with a lead of more than a minute and half over his Team Sky colleague.

Defending champion Froome, who is seeking a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title, is currently second overall, 1 minute 39 seconds down on the Welshman.

Sky News reports that at a rest day press conference today, Froome – who is also the reigning champion of the Vuelta and the Giro d’Italia – said: “As long as there is a Team Sky rider on the top step of the podium in Paris, I'm happy."

When asked whether he would abandon his own target of a fifth overall victory, which would put him alongside Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the most successful riders in the race’s history, Froome replied: “Yes.”

There has been little sign of the same kind of tension between him and Thomas during the past fortnight as there was at Team Sky when Froome  finished second behind team mate Sir Bradley Wiggins in the 2012 Tour de France.

At the end of yesterday’s Stage 15 to Carcassone, Froome and Thomas were chatting and smiling as they rode across the line in the General Classification group.

Today, Froome rejected questions about whether he might have targeted locations as the race heads into its final weeks in the Pyrenees where he could make up time on Thomas.

"All this talk of attacking or not attacking – we're in an amazing position, we're one and two," he pointed out.

"It's not up to us to be attacking. It’s for all the other riders in the peloton to make up time on us and dislodge us from the position we're in."

Thomas won back-to-back stages in the Alps last week to take the overall lead and then extend it, but while he has an impressive record in one-week races, including winning last month’s Criterium du Dauphiné, leading a Grand Tour going into the third week is uncharted territory for him.

He said: "Obviously the closer you get, the more you want to stay on the podium, but I'm still not really thinking about it.

"I'm thinking day by day. The dream was to be in with a shot of a podium and that's still on the cards. I'm trying to keep the same mindset."

Referring to yesterday’s expulsion from the race of his team mate Gianni Moscon for punching Fortuneo-Samsic rider Elie Gesbert during yesterday’s stage, Thomas said: "It's disappointing but there's nothing we can do.

"What's done is done. We just concentrate on the last week. We've still got a strong team. We're a rider down but all the boys are riding well together."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.