CHRIS Froome opened up a significant lead at the Criterium du Dauphine with victory on stage five yesterday and, in the process, put down a marker for his Tour de France rivals.
The Team Sky Rider is one of the favourites for July’s tour after the withdrawals of last year’s winner Bradley Wiggins and Giro D’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali, and he won a hilly 139-kilometre Dauphine stage from Gresy-sur-Aix to Valmorel yesterday. Another Tour contender, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), trailed Froome by four seconds with RadioShack’s Matthew Busche third on the same time as the Spaniard.
Froome’s Team Sky team-mate Richie Porte now sits 52 seconds behind the Briton in the race for the overall Dauphine title, with Garmin’s Rohan Dennis a further two seconds back.
Froome said: “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.”
Today sees the riders tackle another hilly stage over 143km from La Lechere to Grenoble but this time they will face a descent to the finish.