Critérium du Dauphiné: Chris Froome imposes himself on the stage five Valmorel finish
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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Critérium du Dauphiné: Chris Froome imposes himself on the stage five Valmorel finish

by Ben Atkins at 8:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Critérium du Dauphiné
 
British rider takes on Alberto Contador and wins on the mountaintop finish

chris froomeChris Froome (Team Sky) imposed himself on the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné with an aggressive stage five victory, between Grésy-sur-Aix and the mountaintop finish at Valmorel. The Kenyan-born Briton responded to an attack from Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) inside the final two kilometres of the 139km stage and, having caught up with the rider who is expected to be his big rival in the upcoming Tour de France, managed to drop him with 200 metres to go.

Froome caught up with Matthew Busche (RadioShack-Leopard), the final member of a 15-man breakaway group, just as he left Contador behind, and continued sprinting to take the stage victory. Contador managed to outsprint the exhausted former American champion to take second place, just four seconds behind Froome.

Overnight yellow jersey Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) was able to hold onto the pace set by Froome’s Sky teammates until just short of the two kilometres to go banner, but managed to limit his losses to 59 seconds. Having started the day just five seconds ahead of Froome, however, the Australian was forced to hand over the race lead.

“I think winning a stage was really for my team-mates who did a fantastic job to position me in the climb,” explained Froome afterwards. “Peter Kennaugh and Richie Porte controlled all the attacks. I didn’t think I’d catch the RadioShack rider [Busche - ed] up the road. I had to go for the stage win to say thank you even though I knew the yellow jersey was secured.

“When Contador attacked, I could have let him go, knowing that he’s no longer a threat on GC,” Froome continued. “My goal this morning was to take the yellow jersey from Rohan Dennis who was not very well known as a climber. I had to gain some time over him. But at the end, I felt it was necessary to go for the stage win also.

“It’s super!” Froome added. “I couldn’t be in a better condition. It’s really good to beat the other GC contenders: Rodriguez, Contador, Valverde… But I’m quite sure that Alberto is gonna be ready for the Tour de France in three weeks.”

With Busche in the leading group were Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), Francesco Gavazzi (Astana), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco), Daniel Teklehaimanot (Orica-GreenEdge), Peio Bilbao (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Kevin Reza (Europcar), Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Cayetano Sarmiento (Cannondale), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Gert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM), Bartosz Huzarski and David De La Cruz (NetApp-Endura), Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), and Thomas Damuseau (Argos-Shimano).

The break was more than five minutes clear of the peloton just before the halfway point of the stage, but a combined effort from Garmin-Sharp, Team Sky and Movistar, cut the gap to little more than two minutes as the final 12.7km climb began. Teklehaimanot, Huzarski and Rabon had broken clear shortly beforehand, but Wellens bridged across to the trio and left them behind with nine kilometres to go.

Busche persisted, however, and caught the Belgian just before the five kilometre banner, but his slim lead was shrinking steadily as Team Sky led the chase from behind.

Finally, with little more than a kilometre and a half left, Contador launched a trademark attack and managed to leave the remains of the chase group behind. Froome was not to be beaten, however, and jumped across the gap himself to his Spanish rival inside the final kilometre.

Froome then took the lead, trying to shake off Contador, which saw Busche’s advantage disappear and, as the Team Sky rider caught and passed the American, Contador was forced to yield.

Froome took the stage victory and the yellow jersey, leading teammate Richie Porte by 52 seconds, with Dennis slipping to third place another two seconds back.

A big group goes and Garmin-Sharp lets it

With attacks happening from the very start a group of twelve riders formed in the opening ten kilometres, with Busche, Wellens, Teklehaimanot, Huzarski, Gavazzi, Slagter, Bilbao, Reza, Rabon, Sarmiento, Erviti and Lindeman getting 1’30” clear. The group was chased by Bookwalter, mountains jersey Damuseau and De La Cruz, who joined up to make the 15-man break at the 18km point; by which time the gap to the peloton had opened to 3’15”

With Gavazzi the best-placed in the group, 3’26” behind Dennis in 44th place, Garmin-Sharp was happy to let the group continued to build its lead, and it was up to 4’15” as Damuseau took first place over the 3rd category Côte de Trévignin after 25.5km. The gap was to reach a maximum of 5’15” at the 58km point, before coming down again to 4’20” as Damuseau led over the 4th category Col du Frêne after 67km.

Katusha then took over control of the peloton, reducing the gap to 2’55” as Rabon took the intermediate sprint, in La Bâthie with 31.5km to go. Movistar and Team Sky then moved up, with Katusha all-but disappearing from the front of the peloton, and continued to slowly chip away at the break’s lead . It was still 2’51” over the Col de la Croix with 28km to go, however, with groups of riders being dropped from the rear of the peloton as the Movistar began to raise the pace.

The 15-man break was also accelerating, however, and holding the gap at 2’36” with 20km to go. With his team setting the pace behind Erviti was now sitting in, however, and causing several of the riders to begin looking at one another.

Huzarski was driving the break, with Teklehaimanot on his wheel, and De La Cruz allowed a gap to open behind the two riders. Rabon managed to jump across the widening gap, and the three of them left the other twelve behind. Team Sky then took control of the front of the peloton, however, lifting the pace even higher.

At the foot of the Montée de Valmorel with 12.7km to go the gap to the peloton was down to 2’16”; having sat at the back of the trio for the majority of the approach to the climb, Teklehaimanot took the lead as the slopes began. This soon put Rabon into difficulty and, with 11km the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider was left behind.

As Teklehaimanot pushed on, dropping Huzarski, Wellens managed to bridge up to the Eritrean rider. Meanwhile, with the peloton still 2’10” back, Egor Silin (Astana) attacked, and Movistar took over from Team Sky. Silin was soon back in the fold but, with ten kilometrs to go, the gap to Wellens and Teklehaimanot was still almost two minutes.

A kilometre later, however, Wellens accelerated again, and left Teklehaimanot behind.

Team Sky turns the screw while Contador prepares to strike

Team Sky took over the peloton again, with Kennaugh leading Porte and Froome ahead of yellow jersey Dennis, and began to pick up the fragmented members of the breakaway. Movistar tried to increase the pace, but the British team refused to respond and allowed Erviti - who had now been caught - to drift off the front; Valverde promptly jumped across to his teammate and the two of them began to try and ride clear.

Kennaugh increased his pace a little, and held the two Movistar riders at just a few seconds but, with six kilometres to go, Valverde set off alone. This was also the end of Kennaugh’s turn on the front, with the Manxman handing over to Porte

With 5.3km to go Busche managed to bridge across to Wellens, as Porte took the gap down to below a minute, and the former American champion left the Lotto-Belisol rider behind. Valverde was steadily making his way across the gap, however, but Team Sky was keeping him in sight.

The yellow jersey group was now down to just a dozen riders, with Contador, still in the company of Saxo-Tinkoff teammates Michael Rogers and Jesus Hernandez, Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Leopold König (NetApp-Endura), Dani Moreno (Katusha) and Laurens Ten Dam (Blanco) still present.

With four kilometres to go Valverde was 25 seconds behind Busche - having passed Wellens - with the Porte-led group just 13 seconds behind him. The Movistar rider was steadily reeled in by an increase in pace from Porte, with the catch made with 2.5km left. Busche was now just 25 seconds clear, with Dennis now drifting backwards in the short line of riders.

The Australian was soon on the back, tucked in behind Wellens, and was fighting his bike to keep in contact with the Belgian’s wheel, but very shortly afterwards he was forced to watch the group slip away.

Busche was still 20 seconds clear with two kilometres to go, as the gradient began to ease a little, and he began to pull out a few more seconds. With a kilometre and a half left, however, Contador attacked.

The Saxo-Tinkoff rider was followed by Taaramäe, who was struggling to get onto his wheel, while Froome picked up the chase behind him. Froome jumped away from the rest, and past Taaramäe up to Contador, and took the lead as they eased their way up towards Busche.

Froome jumped out of the saddle, but couldn’t drop Contador, and the two of them swept past the struggling Busche with just 200 metres to go. Contador finally had to let the British rider go, who threw both hands into the air as he sprinted across the line.

Result stage 5
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff @ 4s
3. Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-Leopard
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team @ 10s
5. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 12s
6. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha Team
7. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Cofidis
8. Daniel Navarro (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 21s
9. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky @ 24s
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Astana @ 29s

Standings after stage 5
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky @ 52s
3. Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp @ 54s
4. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 1’37”
5. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha Team @ 1’47”
6. Daniel Navarro (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 1’49”
7. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Cofidis @ 1’52”
8. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 1’58”
9. Leopold König (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura @ 2’16”
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Astana @ 2’20”

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