One day after Sky’s Chris Froome crashed, Alberto Contador rode away from his rival and into the race lead in the Critérium du Dauphiné. Team Tinkoff-Saxo’s Spaniard shot free with around 1.5 kilometre to race up the Col de la Gueulaz and kept Froome at bay by 20 seconds, given him an eight-second lead with one day to race.
“I’m pretty knackered after yesterday,” Froome said. “Obviously, I’m disappointed to lose the yellow jersey.”
Froome looked down at his body in bandages. He crashed in yesterday’s final 10 kilometres and today, began with his hip, back and stitched elbow wrapped up.
“Obviously, I took a knock in the crash yesterday. I lost some energy because of that, but I’m remaining upbeat.”
Sky made sure that Froome could be upbeat. It had Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Geraint Thomas, Richie Porte and Mikel Nieve for Froome at the base of the final climb. When his rivals had no team-mates, Froome still had Porte and Nieve. The crash yesterday or simply Contador’s strength were too much for Froome, however.
“It was interesting to see coming up the last climb, there were six of us, looking around seeing all the other leaders on their own, or some of them with only one team-mate, ” Froome said.
“We are in a good position as a team, it’s normal to expect that I’m a little bit off after yesterday but having said that, Alberto did a fantastic race, respect to him. He took the race on when it was hardest, he has the leader’s jersey now to show for it.”
Froome won the Dauphiné stage race en route to last year’s Tour de France victory. To have a chance to repeat, he will have to overtake Contador when the race finishes at the Courchevel ski station tomorrow. The 5.9-kilometre climb will decide the winner of what is a tied match: Froome got the best of Contador on the Col du Béal and Contador on the Col de la Gueulaz.
“I’m trying not to look at it in a negative light, it’s been a good week for us, two stage wins, riding on the front all week as a team, we got some really good things out of this week even if we don’t end up with the leaders jersey,” Froome said.
“I’ve got eight seconds to make up, but the big thing for me to see how the legs are tomorrow and how the body’s feeling. It’s never over until it’s over.”
Images from the seventh stage of the 2014 Criterium du Dauphine, won by Lieuwe Westra. Photos by Graham Watson
Lieuwe Westra wins stage as general classification lead changes hands with one stage remaining