he won the Tour?
As Chris Froome crossed the line on the final two stages of this years Critérium du Dauphiné it’s the happiest I think I’ve seen him on a bike since his Tour de France victory in 2013.
You don’t know what the Dauphiné is an indication of with regards form for the Tour, both Froome and Wiggins won it before their first Grand Tour victory, Nibali finished 7th last year before his Tour success a few weeks later.
What we do know is Froome won and won in some style on those last two stages, classic Froome mountain top stages, where the delight of victory could be seen written across his face.
Earlier on that shambles of a team time-trial, along with a powerful display by Tejay van Garderen to gap Froome and take the yellow jersey on stage 5 and then Nibali’s master-class in the wet on a breakaway, looked to have been to much for the Sky rider.
But the climb on the penultimate stage when he took enough time out of the American, while Nibali again dropped off, to put the yellow jersey within reasonable reach on the final day with or without the time bonuses, saw Froome looking like Froome did in that summer two years ago, as he turned the bend sat up and pointed at his shirt, face beaming.
The final stage was even more impressive as van Garderen had was finally left behind. On stage 5 Froome had gone but the BMC rider ground his way back to eventual pass Froome and gap him by a few seconds. On stage 7 again Froome attacked and created a gap that van Garderen didn’t give up on and let go too far. But that final stage after some hard days in the saddle Froome’s final attack was decisive with the American having not much left to give.
In the end it was 18 seconds that Froome took out of his main competitor for the yellow jersey on that final day, exactly the amount van Garderen had been ahead. With the 10 seconds time bonus for the stage win and the help of Simon Yates and Rui Costa, who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively, that time bonus ended up being the winning margin and Froome took his one and only yellow jersey of the race. The most important one.
That final stage was also another excellent ride by Yates who followed up his twin brother’s sixth place finish last year with a fifth place this. It was one of a number of impressive stages by the 22 year old as he won the white jersey for best placed young rider. Looking stronger as the race went on, three top five finishes in the final four stages.
To go with Pete Kennaugh’s victory on the first stage it was a good race for the Brits.