Cycling: Chris Froome boosts Tour de France bid with Romandie success


Chris Froome completed the first step of what he hopes will be a year to remember as the Team Sky rider finished third in the final time trial to claim overall victory in the Tour de Romandie yesterday.

Twelve months after Bradley Wiggins warmed up for his maiden Tour de France victory by becoming the first British rider to win the week-long race in Switzerland, Froome led from start to finish to follow in his team-mate's footsteps.

Given that the 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans also claimed victory at the Tour de Romandie in the build-up to his triumph, the Kenyan-born 27-year-old Briton will now start as hot favourite to go one better than last year's second-placed finish when the main event begins on 29 June, although Froome is taking nothing for granted.

"It's definitely a good omen but the Tour is still two months away and I need to do a lot of hard training," he said. "It has been a really good week for us. I couldn't have done it without the help of a really strong team around me. Every day since the prologue, they have protected me and kept me at the front of the race. I owe it to them this week.

"I am really happy with my condition now in the build-up to the Tour de France. Every race I do now is a good test for me, to see exactly where my condition is and what I need to work on. It has been a really good experience for me this week."

Already leading by 47 seconds going into the final day, Froome was seven seconds faster than Slovenian Simon Spilak on the 18.7km route on lakeside roads in Geneva, and finished the overall classification 54 seconds clear with a total time of 19hr 24min 51sec. Portugal's Rui Costa trailed in third place.

Tony Martin of Germany came home first to win the time trial after clocking 21:7, finishing 16sec faster than Italy's Adriano Malori.

"I put everything in my legs today and I'm happy," said Martin, the reigning two-time Road World Championships time trial winner and Olympic silver medallist, who finished behind Wiggins last August in London.

Froome seized the yellow jersey by winning the prologue by six seconds on the opening day last week and a disciplined team performance allowed him to increase that lead.

He will now continue his preparation for the Tour de France, while attention switches to Wiggins' bid to become the first British rider to win the Giro d'Italia, which starts in Naples on Saturday.

Sky have named a strong squad that includes Italians Dario Cataldo and Salvatore Puccio as Wiggins attempts to go one better than Robert Millar's second-place finish back in 1987.