Chris Froome finished safely ahead of the crucial stage four time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine as the breakaway prevailed on day three.
A bunch sprint was expected at the end of the 184km charge from Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to Tullins, but the day’s six-man breakaway had other ideas. Their gap peaked at seven minutes and the peloton was unable to drag them back, despite a fierce effort from the sprinters’ teams inside the final 10km. Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) emerged victorious ahead of Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko Marseille Provence KTM).
Froome was shepherded through the closing stages by Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski and Luke Rowe to finish in the pack ahead of tomorrow’s 23.5km test against the clock.
After the stage Froome expanded on Wednesday’s time trial test, and the significance it holds. “It’s going to be a huge dynamic of the race here,” he explained.
“Whoever gets time tomorrow in terms of the GC battle won’t necessarily have to go on the offensive in the following days. It’s an important milestone in this week’s race, but it’s also an important test in terms of the Tour de France. We’ve got a very similar kind of prologue in Dusseldorf, and a similar time trial in Marseille at the end of the Tour. It’s good practice and a good hit out ahead of that.
“Hopefully the TT will go better than it went in Romandie. I think Tony Martin is definitely going to be the man to beat. I’ll be looking more at the GC guys and measuring myself against them. De Gendt has a minute which I’m not sure is possible (to take back) in a time trial like that.
“Lots of riders look to be in good shape so it’s going to be a big battle this week for sure.”