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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
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

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York