ROME, March 9, 2013 – Britain’s Tour de France runner-up Chris Froome
won the fourth stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico on Saturday to close in on the
leader’s blue jersey.
Poland’s Michal Kwiatowski took fourth on the bumpy 173km run from Narni to
Prati di Tivo to take charge of the general classification.
He finished 13sec behind Froome and now leads the Sky man by 4sec overall.
Italians Mauro Santambrogio and Vincenzo Nibali took second and third on
the stage, the latter moving up to third overall at 16sec.
In the first mountain stage of the week-long race, the overall contenders
came to the fore to shake up the standings.
Former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador twice made a break for home
in the final 6km before being joined by Nibali and Santambrogio.
Another former Tour winner Cadel Evans of Australia found the going too
tough and fell out of contention while Joaquim Rodriguez struggled on the
final climb and lost over 40sec.
Nibali attacked with 900m to go but Froome counter-attacked with just 700m
left, leaving his main rivals in his wake and putting time into all of them.
Contador lost 15sec and now sits fourth overall at 30sec while Rodriguez is
10th and over a minute back.
Froome’s strong showing bodes well for his Tour chances later this year
when he will be the Sky team leader as reigning champion Bradley Wiggins
concentrates his attentions on May’s Tour of Italy.
The last two winners of the Tirreno have gone on to shine in the Tour, with
Evans winning it in 2011 and Nibali taking third spot, behind Wiggins and
Froome, last year.
Froome was greatly helped by a strong showing from his Sky team-mates, who
controlled the pace on the final climb.
“I had faith in my teammates, when they work like that it makes my job easy,” said the winner.
“I’m really happy with that victory it was a really good day for us. “I only ended up doing a kilometre in the wind myself. It really was an armchair ride. To have the guys there who were with me on the climb – Rigo, Sergio and Dario – to have them pulling for me when guys like Nibali and Contador are attacking is a really good feeling.
“I think everyone was hurting up at the top there. I had a little bit left to go in that last k and that was down to the work that was done by the rest of the guys during the day.
“It’s going to be a tough fight. Kwiatkowski is maybe a surprise leader but he’s definitely shown that he’s got the form to be up there in that leadership position. It’s going to be hard to prize that off him but we’ll take it one day at a time and do everything that we can.
“There is some great momentum behind the team at the moment with the guys doing so well at Paris-Nice. There’s a great buzz around the team and we want to try and carry that along. There’s a really great feeling over here and morale is high. Watching the guys do the business in Paris-Nice yesterday just motivated us all the more to do what we did today.”
Kwiatkowski and OPQS look next to another crucial mountain stage, 224km Stage 5, on Sunday. OPQS currently holds 3 of the 4 race jerseys: White and Blue are with Kwiatkowski, and Cavendish wears the Red.
“Tirreno-Adriatico was one of my main goals for the beginning of the season, but I couldn’t have expected before that I could take the leader’s jersey today,” Kwiatkowski said. “There a lot of big champions here like Contador, Froome, and Nibali. I didn’t believe that I could maybe stay with them before today. But my team did such a great job from the first stages into today, so that I could believe in myself and do my best on the final climb to keep the leader’s jersey in our team.”
“We have a really hard stage tomorrow and until now everything went good,” Kwiatkowski continued. “I don’t know what I can expect from the others, but I will do my best to try and keep the jersey. I think I can get a lot of help from my teammates and I will focus on not losing too much time tomorrow, or the day after. My goal here is to go for the White Jersey for best young rider. My speciality is with the time trial. I will try to gain some seconds in the final stage. There are a lot of strong riders, but we will all do our best as we have until now to achieve our goals.”
1. Christopher Froome (GBR) Sky 4hr 41min 31sec, 2. Mauro Santambrogio
(ITA) Vini Fantini at 6sec, 3. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Astana 11, 4. Michal
Kwiatkowski (POL) Omega Pharma 13, 5. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack 15,
6. Alberto Contador (ESP) Team Saxo same time, 7. Rigoberto Uran Uran (COL)
Sky 20, 8. Wouter Poels (NED) Vacansoleil 43, 9. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP)
Katusha s.t., 10. Roman Kreuziger (CZE) Team Saxo 58
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Omega Pharma 16:04:59, 2. Christopher Froome
(GBR) Sky 4, 3. Vincenzo Nibali (ItA) Astana 16, 4. Alberto Contador (ESP)
Team Saxo 30, 5. Rigoberto Uran Uran (COL) Sky 33, 6. Christopher Horner (USA)
RadioShack 40, 7. Mauro Santambrogio (ITA) Vini Fantini s.t., 8. Jonathan
Castroviejo (ESP) Movistar 1:04, 9. Roman Kreuziger (CZE) Team Saxo 1:16, 10.
Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) Katusha s.t.