Froome well placed for Criterium du Dauphine defence

No problems for Sky leader after opening stages

Stage 2 of the Critérium du Dauphiné was a day for the sprinters but far from straight forward for the GC men. Three-time Dauphine winner Chris Froome enjoyed a day of protection from his Sky teammates who let Lotto Soudal set tempo and sat in behind the yellow jersey of Thomas de Gendt.

Finishing in 30th place, Froome moved to 13th on the general classification as he remains tied on 1:09 minutes with 47 other riders behind de Gendt. Stage 3 is another day expected to suit the sprinters before the decisive stage 4 time trial and the mountainous back end to the Tour de France warm-up race.

"Froomey has a big rendezvous on Wednesday with the time trial and before then we have these two flat stages. We're happy with the situation at the moment. De Gendt is in the yellow jersey and he's a strong guy with a strong team," sport director Nico Portal said.

"For us today we wanted to make sure we were happy with the break, and then make sure Froomey was out of trouble at the finish. With this type of finish it can be a bit tricky with a final circuit, and all the sprinters' teams pushing really hard in the final 5km. There is always a risk of crashes but today everything went perfect. The guys rode really well." 

Froome's teammate Michal Kwiatkowski, Peter Kennaugh and Ian Boswell are also tied on time with Froome to ensure the team head into the GC positions in a strong position. GC rivals Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac), Romain Bardet (AG2R), Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors), Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott), and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) are also tied on time at 1:09 minutes.

Stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné is a 184km day in the saddle from Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to Tullins and includes four catergorised climbs. Yet to win a race i n2017, Froome and Sky will be aiming to break the drought as the Briton finalises his preparation ahead of Tour de France defence.

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