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Chris Froome (Sky) wins stage 4 of the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico at Prati di Tivo.
Briton confident after winning the Tirreno-Adriatico mountain stage
Froome finished off a superb display of team riding on the 14.5km climb to the finish at Prato di Tivo. His teammates set a high pace for most of the climb and then chased down Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) and Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia).
Froome saved his strength for a final surge to the line, powering past the trio to win the stage by six seconds. He failed to snatch the race leader's blue jersey from Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) but is only four second behind the young Polish rider. Importantly, Froome leads Nibali by 12 seconds, with Contador at 26 seconds.
"The guys did a fantastic job to get me to the last kilometre with as fresh legs as possible," Froome explained.
"It's always hard to race against opposition like Contador, Nibali and Rodriguez. They're also in good form now and that makes for exiting racing. But me and the team have our style of racing that is probably very different to other teams. We just try to concentrate on our race and do the best we can like that."
When asked the secret of Team Sky's success, Froome said: "There's no secret. It's just continuing to work the way we worked in the last few years: training, measuring the training and going back and doing it again. There's not too much to it. It's about getting the basics right," he said, citing Team Sky's group training camps at altitude as just one example of the extra work they do as a team.
"Every team has its ways of doing things and maybe we're a little bit more particular about our training and stuff. But I haven't been to other teams to see exactly what they're doing."
Froome and Team Sky love to talk about the process of racing and winning, about controlling the controllable. Their racing style is based on logic and measured physiology, with little room for emotion and instinct. Froome made it clear he will follow the same process in everything he does this season, including the Tour de France.
"I think it's pretty simple. If we keep following a certain way of training and racing, it makes it a lot more controllable for us. The more you can control in a race then the more you can control the outcome. Cycling isn't always predictable but the more control you have over things, the easier it becomes," he explained.
"Winning helps your confidence. The reason we race is to win. It's a good position to be in but I'm fully aware that the Tour de France is a long way away and it's just a part of the process building up to the Tour."
Well-placed for overall success
Froome is well placed to go on to win Tirreno-Adriatico but true to character, he refused get over confident.
"I think the most we can do is to take things one day at a time. It's not going to be easy to win," he said.
"We’ll certainly try to do everything we can to push the limits. Then we finish with a 10km time trial, where I also hope to gain a little bit of time. The biggest threats are the guys who were there in the final kilometre today: Contador, Nibali and Kwiatkowski."
"We just have to do the most we can on a daily basis now. It was a fantastic ride by Kwiatkowski today to be in the leader's jersey. He held his own against all the big names, showing he's got form on the climbs too. Hats off to him, he's done a good race so far."