Chris Froome climbs to stage victory in Tirreno-Adriatico 2013
Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Michal Kwiatkowski took the overall race lead from his teammate Mark Cavendish.
Today's stage 4 of the Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 presented the riders with a 173 kilometer ride from the town of Narni to the top of the Prati di Tivo climb. The riders left Narni under blue skies and in chilly, but sunny spring-like conditions.
Today's early breakaway group was formed by Team Astana's Fredrik Kessiakoff, Tomasz Marczynski of Team Vacansoleil, Francesco Failli of Vini Fantini - Selle Italia and Team FDJ's Anthony Roux. The group built a lead of almost seven minutes, before the peloton increased its pace and began to slice minutes off the lead, spearheaded by teams such as Sky Pro Cycling and Omega Pharma-QuickStep, which was focused on protecting its overall race lead.
Failli was the first rider to cross the Passo delle Capannelle, followed by Marczynski and Roux who were looking to secure valuable points for the climber's competition.
Team BMC Racing moved to the front of the peloton on the fast and technically challenging descent in order to protect its team leader Cadel Evans. Evans, however, faded when the favorites reached the final challenge, which would bring the riders to the Prati di Tivo ski resort.
The final climb saw two stinging attacks by Contador (Team Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank), who was soon joined by Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini - Selle Italia) and 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico winner Nibali of Team Astana. Froome stayed calm and allowed his mountain domestiques to protect him from the wind until 800 meters to go, when the Kenya-born Briton accelerated across to, and then straight past, the leading trio to take the stage win in solo fashion. Nibali finished third, 11 seconds behind the stage winner and Contador finished the stage in 6th position, 15 seconds behind Froome.
Commenting on his stage victory, Froome told Roadcycling.com "We have our style of racing and it’s probably very different from other teams. The guys did a fantastic job for me today to get me to the last kilometer with the freshest legs possible. If you look at the guys ahead or around me, as well as Contador and Nibali, I had Dario Cataldo, who was pulling for a long way, Rigoberto [Urán] & Sergio [Henao]."
When asked to comment on his chances of securing the overall race victory, Froome said "I think the main threat comes from the guys who were there in the final kilometer today. Contador, Nibali, and Kwiatkowski. It’s not going to be easy to win this race. We’ll certainly try to do everything we can to push the limits every day and we end with a ten kilometer time trial where I hope to gain a little time."
New race leader Kwiatkowski said "I don’t know what to expect from the others, but I will try to keep [the leader's jersey]. I’ll try not to lose time tomorrow and the day after. In the time trial, which is my specialty, I’ll do my best to gain some seconds."
"Tirreno-Adriatico was one of my main goals for the beginning of the season, although I didn’t expect to take the leader’s jersey today against champions like Contador, Froome and Nibali," Kwiatkowski added.
Tomorrow's stage 5 of the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico is a 230 ride from Ortona to Chieti. The stage will feature three categorized climbs and a technically challenging final kilometer.