Critérium du Dauphiné: Chris Froome's late show of strength adds to Tour de France conviction

Briton cruises to victory in the Dauphiné but still launches final attack to help Sky team-mate

With the Critérium du Dauphiné

Chris Froome's status as favourite for the Tour de France received a boost after he cruised to overall victory in the Critérium du Dauphiné following his second-place finish in Sunday's final stage.

Froome not only netted the overall win but also made a personal bid to reward team-mate Richie Porte with one last victory – on the most challenging of terrain, a major Alpine stage.

Such was Froome's strength and self-confidence that the Sky leader even powered away in the final kilometres of the summit finish at Risoul ski station, with Porte, second overall and his second-in-command for the Tour, a few metres behind.

Froome's "present" failed to materialise, but only because Porte was visibly struggling to keep to Froome's back wheel as the Briton sheared through the dense, rainy fog towards the summit finish.

Lifting his foot off the accelerator to let the Australian keep in contact was arguably the only reason why Froome could not catch the lone breakaway and stage winner Italian Alessandro De Marchi, who crept across the finish line victorious but with a margin that had shrunk from two minutes to 24 seconds on the Briton in just a couple of kilometres.

Reflecting on the fact that he and Porte claimed the top two spots overall and what that meant for the Tour, Froome said: "It'll be a huge advantage having both of us aiming for high positions and this is a great test considering what we'll face in July.

"I know I'm going to do everything possible to win there, and there are good reasons to trust a team like this one. But in cycling, nothing is ever guaranteed. Now I can have a glass of wine with my team-mates to celebrate the victory and then go back to work, checking out the route of several of the [Tour's Alpine] stages."

Overall, in any case, Froome's "gifting strategy" was the last conciliatory gesture from the Briton before he starts the Tour on 27 June and for his rivals, it will be a singularly depressing thought.

The Briton has won four out of five stage races he has taken part in this year. His progress throughout 2013, with victories from February to June in which he has won the Tour of Romandie in May and the Dauphiné, both of which Sir Bradley Wiggins triumphed in last year, has indicated inexorably rising form towards the Tour itself.

Froome's – and Sky's – superiority is such that team manager Sir Dave Brailsford was at pains on Sunday to play down their chances and said:

"He's not the Tour's favourite, he's just one of them.

"The most dangerous thing we can do now is to be too confident, to start thinking about how simple it is, when that's not at all the case. We have to be really watchful, all the time."

Froome was equally keen to avoid drawing any meaningful conclusions from Tour arch-rival Alberto Contador's relatively disappointing 10th place overall finish. "I know it'll be very different in July and he'll be a very dangerous rival," he said.

"Beating big names like I've done shows I'm in good shape and that I've worked hard, but the Critérium isn't the Tour de France and nothing, obviously, is guaranteed."

Froome's strength in this week's Dauphiné, regarded as the most important of all the pre-Tour "test races" has cast aside all doubts as to Sky's wisdom in opting for him as team leader ahead of Wiggins, who was forced to sacrifice the Tour because of a knee injury.

Yesterday's final gesture also was a useful indicator that Froome is notably stronger than their plan B for the Tour, Porte.

Sky's one major hiccup in the 2012 Tour was the speculation – fuelled by a couple of moments in the mountains when Froome outpowered Wiggins – as to whether Froome had actually been capable of beating Wiggins in the race. This time round, with Wiggins not present and Porte struggling to keep with Froome in the mountains yesterday, there should be no such debate over the correct pecking order.

Yesterday the man in yellow at the Critérium du Dauphiné will be Sky's best bet for wearing the same colour in the Tour. And judging by this week, there is every sign he will do so in equally imperious style to Wiggins in 2012, all the way through to Paris in 45 days' time.

Final standings

1 C Froome (GB) Team Sky29:28:46 2 R Porte (Aus) Team Sky +58

3 D Moreno (Sp) Katusha +2:12

4 J Fuglsang (Den) Astana +2:18

5 D Navarro (Sp) Cofidis +2:20

6 M Rogers (Aus) Saxo +3:08

7 A Valverde (Sp) Movistar +3:12

8 R Dennis (Aus) Garmin +3:24 9 S Sanchez (Sp) Euskaltel +4:25

10 A Contador (Sp) Saxo +4:27

Suggested Topics
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

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed