Chris Froome took the Critérium du Dauphiné leader’s jersey on day one with a time trial stage win. So focused on the race, he would not be drawn into talks about Bradley Wiggins and the Tour de France selection.
“My focus is on the Dauphiné, Brad’s on the Tour de Suisse,” Froome said. “The Tour team has not been selected yet. It’s not a rider’s decision. The management will have to decide.”
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In the last week, Wiggins said that he would probably not race the Tour de France and that team Sky is building its team around defending champion Froome. Wiggins added that he might even have to leave Sky to race the Tour again.
Froome explained that wants to focus on the Dauphiné, which began today with 10.4-kilometre time trial in Lyon. Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing) set the early fast time of 13-22 minutes. Only Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Froome could top it. Contador clocked 13-21 and Froome, less than a minute later, 13-13.
“I don’t know how much we could take away from the 10K prologue, but yeah, it’s a bit of surprise,” Froome said. “I wasn’t expecting to win the race.”
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) set the fastest time up the climb to take the mountains jersey, but faded over the second half. The Italian placed eighth with 13-26.
“I had no idea where the rivals were in relation to me, I was just trying to pace myself in order to my sensation, but I heard from my team-mates that the last four kilometres were quite tough and into a head wind.”
Last year, Froome won Dauphiné en route to the Tour de France. However, he only took the race lead in stage five to Valmorel. He protected it for two more days.
If he wants to hold on to the yellow jersey, this time he will have to do so for seven days. Already tomorrow, the race features a summit finish up the Col du Béal.
“Will I defend the jersey? It’s hard to say,” Froome said. “I didn’t expect to be in they yellow jersey after the prologue today but it’s a great position to be in. At least I don’t have to make up time on my GC rivals.”
Defending Criterium du Dauphine champion Chris Froome takes early race lead with dominant display in time trial