VALMOREL, France, June 06, 2013 (AFP) – Chris Froome laid down a Tour de
France warning to his rivals as he climbed to victory and claimed the leader’s
yellow jersey on the fifth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on Thursday.
The Briton timed his attack to perfection at the end of the 139km ride from
Gresy-sur-Aix to Valmorel to beat his main Tour rival, Alberto Contador, into
second with American Matthew Busche third.
Perhaps even more ominous for Froome’s Tour rivals is that the Kenya-born
rider, who was second on the Grand Boucle last year, claims he’s still trying
to find his form.
“From now until the Tour I hope to improve my form,” he said. “I’m not yet
at 100 percent, I’m just where I want to be.”
“It’s definitely a good gauge for me to be able to test myself against someone like Alberto who has won multiple Grand Tours. To be able to finish in front of someone like him definitely gives me a lot of confidence, especially three weeks out from the Tour de France.
“Yesterday was a big test in the time trial to see where the other guys were. I’m happy with the result in that stage and today was a different kind of test in the mountains. Coming away with a stage win wasn’t really the plan, but I’m really happy that I can reward my team-mates with a stage victory because they did a super job looking after me. Especially in the final, Pete Kennaugh and Richie Porte were fantastic.
“It’s a position that I’ve been adjusting to this year. It still feels quite new to have a team of guys riding and sacrificing themselves for you. But so far this season the guys have done it throughout my race programme – starting in Oman, Tirreno-Adriatico, Criterium International, Romandie and the Dauphine. So naturally they must have some confidence in me. It’s a really good feeling and I feel privileged to be in this position.
“I’m hoping to improve my form before the Tour. I don’t feel that I’m in 100 per cent condition yet but I’m where I need to be at this stage.”
The Sky rider took over from Australian Rohan Dennis in the leader’s jersey
with team-mate and another Australian Richie Porte moving into second overall.
Overnight leader Dennis slipped to third overall as he lost almost a minute
in the final 2km.
Froome’s victory was agony for Busche who was the last man standing from a
15-strong breakaway group that went clear within the first 10km.
Busche looked capable of holding on for the win as he passed Belgian Tim
Wellens, who had been the first breakaway rider to make a solo bid for home,
in the final 5km.
Alejandro Valverde broke out of the peloton to try to chase him down but
made few inroads. Busche’s lead was still hovering around the 20sec mark as he
approached the final kilometre but Contador, hoping to make up for a poor
time-trial showing the previous day, put in a devastating burst.
That blew apart the remnants of the peloton, which by then was only about a
dozen strong, but Froome stayed calm on Porte’s wheel.
And when the Sky leader finally counter-attacked, there was no stopping him.
He reeled in Contador, who then tried to latch onto the Briton’s wheel,
before kicking again to overhaul Busche inside the final 200m.
Froome finished four seconds ahead of Contador and now leads Porte by 52
Contador did look strong on the uphill finish, even though he could not
quite match Froome. But the Briton believes it is too simple to assume the
Tour will boil down to a straight fight between the pair.
“I can’t say that, I don’t know. In my opinion there will be more than two
challengers for victory, I think more like six or seven.
“Sky is in a strong position, we have the advantage of having two of those
riders (himself and Porte).”
Friday’s sixth stage takes the riders over 143km from La Lechere to
Grenoble before two mountain stages at the weekend.
Results from the sixth nstage of
the Criterium du Dauphine after 139km from Gresy-sur-Aix to Valmorel on
1. Chris Froome (GBR/Sky), 3hr 28min 39sec, 2. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX)
at 4sec, 3. Matthew Busche (USA/RSH) same time, 4. Alejandro Valverde
(ESP/MOV) 10, 5. Michael Rogers (AUS/SAX) 12, 6. Dani Moreno (ESP/KAT) s.t.,
7. Rein Taaramae (EST/COF) s.t., 8. Dani Navarro (ESP/COF) 21, 9. Richie Porte
(AUS/SKY) 24, 10. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 29, 11. Bart De Clercq (BEL/LTB)
32, 12. Laurens ten Dam (NED/BLA) s.t., 13. Jesus Hernandez (ESP/SAX) 55, 14.
Rohan Dennis (AUS/GRM) 0:59, 15. Leopold König (CZE/APP) 1:10
14. Rohan Dennis (AUS/GRM) 59, 18. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 1:31, 51.
Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 5:29
1. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 16h08:44, 2. Richie Porte (AUS/SKY) 52, 3. Rohan
Dennis (AUS/GRM) 54, 4. Michael Rogers (AUS/SAX) 1:37, 5. Daniel Moreno
(ESP/KAT) 1:47, 6. Daniel Navarro (ESP/COF) 1:49, 7. Rein Taaramae (EST/COF)
1:52, 8. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) 1:58, 9. Leopold König (CZE/APP) 2:16,
10. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 2:20, 11. Stef Clement (NED/BLA) 2:32, 12.
Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 2:47, 13. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 2:49, 14.
Laurens ten Dam (NED/BLA) 3:12, 15. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP/RSH) 3:24
20. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) 4:01, 40. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 8:25