Effects of stage 5 crash ended hopes of title defence
Despite slipping from second to 12th overall on the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné following the effects of a crash on stage 5, Chris Froome (Team Sky) was bouyed by his two stage wins, six days in the leaders jersey and victory in the points classification. Mikel Nieve's stage win saved the day with his first stage win for Sky in Courchevel but it was the performance by Froome that attracted equal attention.
30-year-old Neive was given the freedom to attack from the breakaway while in the peloton the GC contenders starting to test each others legs. Race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) had distanced Froome on the penultimate ascent of the day but he was unable to haul in Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) who rode away for a surprise overall win.
Froome was unable to match the efforts of Contador but explained after the stage that we was still happy with his performance during the race.
"I've felt completely blocked up through my front of quads since the crash and I've not been able to engage the same types of muscles that I used in the earlier stages," Froome said.
"That definitely affected me today, and while it's frustrating, we can take a lot of things away from this race. We've had three stage wins, taken the points jersey, and produced a dominant team performance."
After winning the Dauphiné last year, Froome went on to win the Tour de France and knows that defending his yellow jersey will be a difficult feat come July.
"Tinkoff-Saxo only held the jersey for one day but we defended it for six stages until Alberto took it yesterday. He's shown he's in great form ahead of the Tour though, and we're definitely going to have a battle on our hands in July," Froome said.
Froome's injury freed up Nieve for the stage win who was thankful for the opportunity which allowed him to claim the third professional win of his career.
"I got my chance and I'm happy I took it. haven't won much in my career but I've been proud to win in some of the sport's biggest races," Nieve said. "This one is really important to me, and it's right up there with my Vuelta and Giro stage successes.
"Obviously, I'd like to win one in the Tour de France as well, but we'll have to see with that one, working for Froomey will be my main objective again there."
Nieve understood his captain's disappointment but explained that the Tour is the main objective for Froome, not the Dauphiné.
"He was disappointed today but he's really happy with how the team has performed this week," Nieve said. "He's recovering from his crash and he's relaxed because he knows in a few days he'll be right back to his best. A fall like that really takes it out of you but he'll be good to go at the Tour, we all will."
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