Criterium du Dauphine: Chris Froome storms back into contention with blistering time-trial

Rohan Dennis takes the overall lead

Anybody looking for signs that Chris Froome is well on track for winning Britain’s second straight Tour de France  - and that almost all of his main opponents are in severe danger of becoming completely de-railed in their bid to try and stop him - would have taken deep encouragement from Wednesday’s time trial stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné.

In the’s 32 kilometre, completely flat, race against the clock, Froome gained 2 minutes and 45 seconds on his Tour archrival Alberto Contador of Spain and soared to second overall.

It barely mattered that unlike Sir Bradley Wiggins in last year’s equivalent Dauphine time trial, Froome did not beat reigning World Champion, Tony Martin, but instead had to settle for third. All of his fellow Tour de France contenders on paper - Alejandro Valverde of Spain, 53rd,  Belgium’s Jurgen Van Den Broeck, 54th,  Contador, 61st, Joaquim Rodriguez, 70th, all former top five Tour finishers or Grand Tour winners or dangerous climbers  - were so far behind in comparison that Sky will now, perhaps, have to start looking for new Tour rivals amongst those who finished closer to their leader.

“I don’t know how he [Alberto] is feeling, perhaps he’s keeping something back for the mountains,” Froome said afterwards, whilst warning that he will not hold back on today’s first stage in the Alps himself. 

“I could just try and keep things under control but I’ll want to have a go. It’s not my big objective here, but if we can win the Dauphine, with me or one of my team-mates, we’ll try.”

Froome can also draw huge encouragement that he is far from being the only Sky rider to hit top form just as the Tour hoves into view. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Wales Geraint Thomas and Australian Richie Porte, touted as plan ‘B’ for Sky should Froome falter and who himself overtook Contador in the time trial, all took top ten places. And, just as in last year’s Dauphine after the time trial, Sky now has four riders in the top six overall.

Whilst any doubts over Froome’s ability to fill Sir Bradley Wiggins’ shoes as Sky’s Tour leader will have evaporated completely now, and Thursday’s mountain stage should re-confirm Froome's climbing ability and probably net him the lead, the biggest questionmark after Wednesday’s Dauphine stage concerns Contador and his severely below-expectations performance.

“You can never really rule him out,” Sky’s Richie Porte, a former team-mate of the Spanish multiple Tour winner,  told specialist website cyclingnews.com “It’s not over yet, and there are still a few more weeks. If anyone in the peloton knows how to win the Tour, it’s Alberto Contador.” Psychologically, though, Froome should now be more motivated than ever to beat Contador, and triumph come July.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower