Team Sky – Froome rides into yellow at Dauphine
Chris Froome and Team Sky made an emphatic statement at the Criterium du Dauphine as the Brit won stage five to move into the race lead.
On the Valmorel summit finish Froome reacted to an attack from rival Alberto Contador, shutting down the Spaniard before riding clear to win by four seconds.
The win came off the back of another stunning show of strength from the team who took up the pace-setting on the final hors categorie climb to whittle down the lead bunch into an extremely select group.
Froome was always protected, with each Team Sky member taking a turn on the front before it was left to Pete Kennaugh and Richie Porte to take it up on the latter slopes.
Despite digging deep to set the pace Porte still held on for ninth on the stage, ensuring a Team Sky 1-2 at the top of the standings with Froome opening out a 52-second advantage. The men in black and blue also carved out a 2:05 advantage at the top of the team classification.
The stage saw a brave fight from overnight leader Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), the young Australian slipping back with 2.5 kilometres to go but holding on to third overall, two seconds behind Porte.
Chris Froome, Team Sky Rider:
“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.”
Nicolas Portal, Team Sky Sports Director:
“It was a great performance today. The plan was to try and take the jersey on the stage and open out an advantage on the GC if possible. Everything worked perfectly.
“Pete was brilliant today and it was really nice to see him on this level and doing a long pull. It was a strong finish for Richie and Chris was unbelievable. That helped us take 1-2 on the GC ahead of Rohan Dennis. He also did a really good final climb and put up a great fight.
“The gaps are quite big already but we need to keep going, control things as best we can and see how the next summit finishes play out. It’s a nice position to be in and it’s great for the confidence, especially a few weeks before the Tour. We know the likes of Chris and Richie are not hitting 100% yet so there is more to come.”