Tour de France 2013: Chris Froome takes stage victory to claim yellow jersey

Team Sky rider takes overall lead after Stage 8 success

Chris Froome, his team-mate Richie Porte and the British squad Sky launched a knock-out blow in the Tour de France, with Froome capturing a solo stage win and the overall lead on the race’s first major summit finish – all in a style which strongly suggests that with two weeks still left, the Tour could well conclude with a second straight British win.

As if Froome’s devastating charge four kilometres from the line of the sunbaked Ax-3 Domaines climb was not impressive enough, delivering an almost conclusive blow to the aspirations of Alberto Contador and the rest of the field to dislodge Sky, his team-mate and key climbing wing-man Porte claimed second on the stage and moved up to second overall.

This control of the Tour’s top two places overall gives Sky a stranglehold that looks at least as strong as last year when Sir Bradley Wiggins claimed the yellow on the equivalent first mountain stage – with Froome, like yesterday the winner, close behind him on second.

Froome’s domination of the Tour had been predicted since he claimed second in last year’s Tour and followed that up with a relentless series of stage race wins this spring and last year’s winner Wiggins was ruled himself by injury.

But with Porte at 51 seconds, Sky’s closest rival Alejandro Valverde at 1min 8sec and the rider Froome most fears, Contador, at nearly two minutes on the stage, even Froome, now the King of the Mountains leader as well, said he did not expect the damage to be so great in the race’s first day.

“I wasn’t expecting that much for today, it was a big surprise,” he said. “I saw Alberto wasn’t in a good state, but to make as big a gap as this on the first high mountain stage is really something. I expected the overall contenders to be much more prevalent, more attacks from them. But I know we’ve got good condition, we’ve been training for this for months so I’m happy with that.”

Froome revealed that if the team-work up until the final climb had been planned with Sky’s meticulous attention to detail, his decision to make the devastating final charge for the line had been his.

“Once I pulled clear, I had to go into time trial mode to try and take as big an advantage as possible,” Froome said. With sweat pouring down his face, and his hulking frame wrapped over the bike Froome’s style could not be described as elegant. But with the peloton already whittled down to only five riders – himself, Contador, Porte, Spain’s Alejandro Valverde and Czech Roman Kreuziger – the damage Froome then proceeded to wreak on a day when soaring temperatures had sapped riders strength, was considerable.

“There’s almost two weeks to go to Paris, so every second counts, I had to give it everything,” Froomesaid. But by the time he reached the summit, arms raised aloft and fingers splayed as he claimed his first Tour de France lead, the seconds advantage had stretched into minutes.

The clinical execution of Froome’s final attack, the devastating gaps on the first climb of the entire Tour and the extent of Sky’s domination meant that questions about the reasons for the British team’s collective performance were not long coming, either.

Referring indirectly to cycling’s murky doping past, Froome responded: “There is absolutely no way we would be able to get these results if the sport hadn’t changed. [But] the sport has changed, and I certainly know that these results are not going to be stripped from me in five or ten years’ time.”

Sky’s allconquering domination, in fact, had looked to slip a little on the second last climb of the day, the Pailheres, when the Colombian Nairo Quintana opened up a gap of a minute by the summit.

At that point Sky had only three leaders left in the main pack. But sterling work by Isle of Man rider Pete Kennaugh as he enforced a breakneck pace on the descent slowly reeled Quintana in. Then when Froome opened up the throttle and Contador, his biggest rival, cracked, the stage was all over bar the shouting. The Tour may not yet be, though, but after such a decisive first victory, there can be no dbout that the 2013 Tour, like last year’s at the same point, is now Sky’s to lose.

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker