Froome Takes Stage 5 and Overall Lead in Criterium du Dauphine Libere
Chris Froome (Team Sky) has taken the lead in the Dauphine Libere. The Briton surged away from the group of favorites to overtake Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) and Matthew Busche (RadioShack-Leopard) and win Stage 5, a mountainous, 139-km ride from Gresy-sur-Aix to Valmorel, in 3:28:39. Contador outsprinted Busche for second at 0:04.
The attacks began early, and a 15-man break formed by 18 km. The escapees were Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), Francesco Gavazzi (Astana), Tom Slagter (Blanco), Busche, Daniel Teklehaimanot (GreenEdge), Peio Bilbao (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Kevin Reza (Europcar), Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Jose Sarmiento (Cannondale), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Bert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM), Bartosz Huzarski and David de la Cruz (both from NetApp-Endura), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), and Thomas Damuseau (Argos-Shimano). Garmin-Sharp did not chase hard, and the break forged a 5:15 lead by 58 km. Two km later, Katusha went to the front and began to lead a more determined pursuit.
When the break breasted the Cote de la Croix (111 km), the bunch had closed to within three minutes of the break. Clearly, the GC contenders would make the catch and compete for the stage win.
With 19 km left, at the base of the hors categorie climb to the finish, the fugitives were 2:30 ahead of the peloton. On the ascent, the break disintegrated as the weaker climbers fell away. Teklehaimanot, Rabon, and Huzarski rode away from their companions. With nine km to go, Wellens attacked and attempted to go solo. Three km later, Busche overtook the Belgian and attempted to go for the stage win.
Behind, Movistar and Sky led the pursuit. With six km remaining, Valverde attacked with Erviti but was brought back. The Spaniard made a solo effort that was also reeled in. With 2.5 km left, Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), who began the day as the overall leader, dropped off of the pace. One km later, Contador made his move. Froome joined the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff man, and the pair caught Busche with 500 m left. Froome surged again and took the stage.
Froome said that the stage was a good test for him and for Sky and that both passed. “It’s definitely a good gauge for me to be able to test myself against someone like Alberto who has won multiple Grand Tours," he said. "To be able to finish in front of someone like him definitely gives me a lot of confidence, especially three weeks out from the Tour de France.
"Yesterday was a big test in the time trial to see where the other guys were. I’m happy with the result in that stage and today was a different kind of test in the mountains. Coming away with a stage win wasn’t really the plan, but I’m really happy that I can reward my teammates with a stage victory because they did a super job looking after me. Especially in the final, Pete Kennaugh and Richie Porte were fantastic."
In the overall, Froome leads teammate Richie Porte by 0:52 and Dennis by 0:54. Stage 6 will not be a standing shaker. The 143-km ride from La Lechere-les-Bains to Grenoble will feature four categorized climbs, including a Category 1, but the last of these climbs will crest nearly 50 km from the finish line. The run into Grenoble will be downhill. It all adds up to a sprint finish. Who will take it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
Stage winner and race leader Chris Froome is using the