Froome primed for Alpe d'Huez showdown

Modane (France) (AFP) - Tour de France leader Chris Froome admitted he feels on edge ahead of Saturday's Alpe d'Huez showdown.

Britain's Froome is battling with Colombian Nairo Quintana for the yellow jersey, which will be presented to the Tour winner following Sunday's largely processional 21st and final stage into Paris.

Team Sky's Froome has a 2min 32sec lead over 25-year-old Quintana going into the decisive 110km 20th stage from Modane to Alpe d'Huez.

And the Kenyan-born 30-year-old says he expects the Alpe to be as rowdy as ever, particularly on the notorious "Dutch Corner" where young men from the Netherlands usually spend several days drinking copious amounts of alcohol before the Tour arrives.

"Every rider is a little bit on their tiptoes going up (Saturday's) stage, a little bit on edge about what's going to happen up there," said Froome.

"We know the crowds up there have been partying the last couple of nights, by the time we arrive they'll be fully into it.

"Everyone's a bit nervous about getting through there, but hopefully it won't be too different to last time (in 2013) and it will just be a great atmosphere on the climb and the race isn't going to get affected in any way."

Froome is understandably nervous given the treatment he and some of his Sky teammates have come in for during this year's Tour.

Froome had urine thrown at him,. Richie Porte was punched and several riders spat at already throughout the Tour, in which the British outfit has at times encountered a hostile reception in French territory.

Again on Friday, television cameras caught an elderly man enthusiastically and vigorously aiming a rude gesture -- known as a bras d'honneur (arm of honour) in France -- at Froome as he passed on the final La Toussuire climb, while the race leader was also spat at.

"Of course it's appalling behaviour. We're primarily human beings and then sportsmen," said Froome, who nonetheless insisted such incidents have not spoilt his enjoyment of wearing the yellow jersey at the world's greatest cycle race.

"People need to remember that, you can't come to a bike race to spit at people, punch people or throw urine at them -- it's not acceptable."

As for Movistar's Quintana, he is just focused on trying to wrest the yellow jersey off Froome.

He gained 30sec on the Briton on Friday after attacking 5.5km from the La Toussuire summit.

He admitted to being surprised by how well Froome defended his lead but said he would attack again on Saturday.

"We'll keep fighting and if there's another opportunity, we'll take it," vowed Quintana.

Saturday's stage has two hors category climbs, the 29km long Col de la Croix de Fer (average gradient 5.2 percent) and the 13.8km ascent up Alpe d'Huez to the finish (at 8.2 percent) amounting to 43km of climbing. -- that's 39 percent of the day's stage spent going uphill!