Chris Froome thanked his Sky teammate Kenny Elissonde for helping close down Fabio Aru's dangerous attack on stage 4 of the Tour of the Alps, after initially missing the move on the steep, early slopes of the Bannberg climb.
The Frenchman has proved invaluable to Froome on the key climbs of the Tour of the Alps. Diego Rosa is apparently suffering from pollen allergies, and so Elissonde has stepped up and performed extra shifts of hard work, riding tempo for Froome, chasing attacks and even covering his wheel earlier in the stages.
Elissonde is fighting for a spot on Team Sky roster for the Giro d'Italia but his hard work this week seems to have convinced Froome of his worth.
"He's been amazing this week; he's really stepped up," Froome said. "He's been there in the final every day, and he's definitely putting himself forward for Giro selection."
Elissonde is more cautious about his chances of selection but can see that his form is good. He said in a post-race interview with Cyclingnews that he isn't, yet, thinking about the Giro d'Italia, but trying to do well in each stage at the Tour of the Alps.
"I'm happy. Every day we can take some pleasure here in the mountains. It's a perfect race for the climbers. It's a really nice race, and with Froome on the wheel, that's a really nice feeling," he said.
"For the moment, I'm just enjoying this week and trying to take it day by day. I don't think to much about the Giro or anything else. I just want to do something good every day in this race."
Still, Elissonde has played an important role for Team Sky in the climbs, including on stage 4's final ascent where the team had planned to try and move Froome up in the overall classification. Froome was part of a select group over the last climb, and although he tried to attack, he ended up finishing 10th on the stage. He is currently fourth overall, 16 seconds behind Pinot.
"The plan was to try to do something again," Elissonde said. "Chris is here to do some efforts and to try something. It was a bit tactical with Astana, and teams like this. Thibaut [Pinot] was a bit alone and isolated. It was also a headwind so the plan was to, maybe, come from behind and gain a gap, then it was man against man because of the headwind. We tried to create a gap but Thibaut was really strong, so hats off to him."
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