Five days and more than 700km in length, the Tour of the Alps could be decided by time bonuses according to Chris Froome after he finished fifth on stage one.
Riding his final warm up race before the Giro d’Italia, Froome finished the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps in fifth position, 10-seconds down on stage winner Pello Bilbao (Astana), and already finds 20 seconds off the leader’s fuchsia jersey.
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Bilbao attacked in the final kilometres of Monday’s stage one to Folgaria, crossing the line six seconds ahead of team-mate Luis Leon Sanchez and 10 seconds ahead of the main group of favourites, including Froome, meaning that Bilbao now holds the race lead by 10 seconds thanks to the bonus seconds on the line.
“The time bonuses could will be really important,” Froome said as he warmed down on his turbo trainer after the stage. “I’ve just been looking at the GC and I’m already 20 seconds back, so time bonuses could be pretty crucial in this race going forward.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia 2018 route guide
After Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) attacked on the final climb and was pulled back by Team Sky domestique Kenny Elissonde, Froome himself went on the attack to briefly go clear with Pinot, George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida).
That move may have come to nothing, but Froome was pleased with his form after being off the pace at his two other races this year, the Ruta del Sol and Tirreno-Adriatico.
“It was a very short stage with explosive racing, but that’s what we knew it would be coming into this race. I think I’m definitely heading in the right direction and the feelings are good.
“It was getting quite selective at the point where I pushed on, just to get back to the front of the race. I think everything’s heading in the right direction and I’m pretty happy so far.
“Pinot seemed a little bit eager to get up the road when there was still quite a big bunch left and a lot of climbing still to go, so maybe he was hoping that someone else would go with him at that point. I think he then sat up when he saw that we were right there.”
The second stage of the Tour of the Alps sees the only summit finish of the race on the 7.7km climb to Fiemme-Alpe di Pampeago at the end of a 145.5km stage, where Froome may hope to regain some of the time that he lost in time bonuses on the opening day.