Team Sky: Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas seal impressive stage race victories

Froome pipped his rival Alberto Contador to win the Vuelta a Andalucia

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The Independent Online

Team Sky have made a fine start to the 2015 season with Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas both sealing overall victory in stage races today.

Froome held off the challenge of his rival Alberto Contador to claim the Vuelta a Andalucia by just two seconds, while Thomas edged out the world champion Michal Kwiatkowski to win the Volta ao Algarve.

Froome has drawn first blood in his duel with Contador (AFP/Getty)

The five-day races both hold a 2.1 classification from the UCI, two categories below cycling's Grand Tours and major classics, but the double victory is a real statement of intent for Sky after a mixed 2014 season.

Froome will take particular satisfaction from drawing first blood in his annual duel with Contador. The Spanish rider led by 27 seconds going into the mountainous stage three, but Froome dropped him to claim the stage win and a narrow lead that he protected until the race's finale.

Thomas's victory could prove equally significant. It is the third stage race win of the Welshman's career, and the latest example of his potential on the road after two team pursuit Olympic golds.

It is Thomas's first victory since the Commonwealth Games (AFP/Getty)

He led the race from stage two, which he won with a daring solo victory, and extended his advantage with a fine showing in stage three's time trial. It is his first victory since claiming Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow last August.

He was ably supported by the Australian climber Richie Porte, who showed his own excellent form by winning the race's queen stage and securing fourth spot overall.

Froome and Thomas's victories build on a fine start to the season by British riders, after Mark Cavendish claimed two stages and overall victory in the Dubai Tour earlier this month.