Cycling: Chris Froome beats Alberto Contador in thrilling sprint finish to put his first stage-race win in reach

British rider retains overall lead ahead of tomorrow's final stage


Barring last-minute disaster, Chris Froome will claim the first stage race win of his career on Saturday after claiming a stunning sprint victory over Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez on Friday’s tough trek though the hills around Muscat.

Froome outpowered Contador by centimetres after the Spaniard launched an attack on the second of yesterday’s three final steep climbs that, in Froome’s words, “had the peloton in pieces.”

Although the front end of the battered bunch briefly regrouped, Contador stomped on the accelerator again on the final ascent. “Rodriguez and I were just behind,” Froome recounted, “and managed to close the gap over the top.”

“I’d had in my mind that I'd always be with teammates and be able to control everything. To have it all blown to pieces the second time up the climb, did make me feel a bit exposed.”

Froome alone, though, was strong enough to handle the situation and “Coming down to the bottom [of the final climb] we knew Contador only had a small advantage and just rolled through together. [After catching Contador] the last two kilometres were quite tactical, with lots of attacking between us.”

Froome then opened up the final three-way sprint, enabling him to stay closer to the barriers and forcing his rivals to use extra energy to combat the gusting head-wind - energy they, ultimately, did not have.

For the Briton Friday’s win, the first since last year’s Tour de France opening mountain-top stage, all but guarantees him the overall win. Sky’s decision to use him as team leader this week was already confirmed when he took the race lead on Thursday. Defeating Contador twice in as many days on such tough terrain represents a hugely encouraging step for bigger challenges in France this summer.

“They threw everything at us and it was a question of whether Chris could resist that,” a visibly pleased Sir Dave Brailsford told The Independent.

“Chris took everything on board, didn’t panic and managed perfectly. He showed a lot of maturity.” His strength, too, on a stage which by common consent was far harder than it appeared on paper, was plain for all to see.

Brailsford also had praise for Sir Bradley Wiggins, building more slowly towards his first big goal of the Giro, and working hard for Froome throughout the week’s racing - a reversal of their roles in last year’s Tour. And if solid teamwork helped Wiggins be the winner in Paris last July, in Oman on Saturday it will be Froome who reaps the benefits.

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower