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

Oman

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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Finance Assistant - Automotive

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Recruitment Genius: General Maintenance Person - Automotive

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Meeter-Greeter - Automotive

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Recruitment Genius: Course Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Course Manager is required to join a m...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen