CHRIS Froome showed he is in dominant form ahead of the Tour de France, beating main rival Alberto Contador to win the second stage of the Criterium du Dauphine yesterday.
Froome accelerated with 800 metres remaining and managed to hold off two-time Tour de France champion Contador on the 158.5-kilometre (98.5 mile) leg from Tarare to Col du Béal. Wilco Kelderman was third, four seconds behind the lead duo. It was Froome’s second successive victory in the eight-stage race, following his win in the opening time trial. He has a 12-second advantage over Contador and is 21 seconds ahead of Kelderman.
His Sky team set the pace at the head of the peloton for most of the route over the five categorized climbs and it caught the break up the final ascent on the Col du Beal, which is HC or “Hors Categorie,” meaning it is considered too hard to classify.
Froome attacked twice with 5 kilometres (3.11 miles) remaining, splitting the bunch, with a six-man lead group making its way to the finish. The 29-year-old then made another move inside the final kilometre and only Contador could stay with him.
Italian Alessandro De Marchi was first to show for the Cannondale team but he was reeled in with under 8km remaining and Froome burst to a spectacular victory. Froome said: “It was a really, really tough day but the team did a really big job. I’m really happy to be able to get the stage victory to be able to say thank you to them. When (Mikel) Nieve pulled off I thought, OK, this is the first time I’ve done a mountain-top finish against my biggest rivals in a really long time now so let’s open things up and see where everyone’s at. I think in the final with Alberto and I coming up to the line both of us were going as hard as we could.”
Today’s third stage is a 194-kilometre (120.55-mile) leg from Ambert to La Teil.