Team Sky’s Chris Froome sits only 35 seconds down in the overall classification of the Critérium du Dauphiné stage race, but a warning light must be flashing in Montagny, France. Today in a team time trial similar to a stage in the 2015 Tour de France, Froome lost time to riders he will face next month – Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and British twins, Adam and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge).
ASO, which organises both races, called it a “a significant defeat for Team Sky”. Briton Peter Kennaugh held the yellow jersey before the 24.5-kilometre stage in central France, but because of the ‘defeat’ he now sits 23 seconds back.
Former Hour Record holder, Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) took over the race lead thanks to his team’s performance.
The feedback ahead of the Tour de France was more important to Sky than the stage result itself today. At only 3.5 kilometres shorter than the Tour’s 28-kilometre time trial, it provided a good test for stage nine to Plumelec on July 7.
The major difference between the stages was that the Tour’s time trial holds a straight line in the latter half, where today’s twisted through the Loire’s countryside.
Sky, which only had five helpers for Froome with 10 kilometres still to cover, closed the day at 30 minutes and 33 seconds. Froome lost 35 seconds to van Garderen and 31 seconds to Nibali, the 2014 Tour champion.
The Yates twins, who normally suffer in time trials, gained 12 seconds on Froome. They are racing for the overall only in the Dauphiné, but will take confidence from the result for the Tour. Orica already gave them the green light to race.
The only big names to fair worse were Cannondale-Garmin’s Andrew Talansky and Daniel Martin at eight seconds behind Froome’s black train.
Sky’s sports director, Nicolas Portal called the team time trial performance “disappointing” but noted that Luke Rowe suffered a mechanical and Wout Poels is still returning to speed after breaking a bone in his shoulder at the Flèche Wallonne in April.
The Dauphiné classification standings will change before the end of the week with four summit finishes ahead, but today will not be forgotten quickly with the Tour on the horizon.
Sky will now have to stack up this result with the other time trials it raced this year with Froome, or his potential Tour helpers, and make some tweaks ahead of July 7.
Team Sky’s good team time trial days
Tour de Romandie, April 28: Froome with some of his likely Tour helpers including Geraint Thomas, won the 19.2-kilometre time trial. Orica, with Simon Yates racing, placed second on the same time. Nibali lost 17 seconds and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 40 seconds.
Giro del Trentino, April 21: Sky finished second to Bora-Argon 18 and paved the way for Richie Porte’s overall win. Porte, who helped Bradley Wiggins and Froome to their Tour titles, should also be on Sky’s nine-man team in July.
Coppi & Bartali, March 26: Sky placed second to surprise winner CCC Sprandi Polkowice and helped Swift to second overall.
The warning light days…
Giro d’Italia, May 9: Sky failed at the Grand Tour level for Richie Porte. Instead of coming out of the team time trial better or on equal ground with his competitors, Porte lost 20 seconds to eventual overall winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). The impact of this result will forever remain unknown, as Porte had to abandon in the third week due to a crash.
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