Froome believes Tour de France preparation is on track

Chris Froome safely negotiated the Col de Manse to retain the overall lead at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Wednesday, and the Sky rider has declared himself pleased with his shape ahead of the Tour de France.

Speaking to reporters in Gap after stage 4, Froome said that he will not return to Sky's altitude training base atop Mount Teide between now and the Tour, which gets underway in Leeds on July 5.

"After the Dauphiné, I won’t go back to the Canaries," Froome said, according to L'Équipe. "We'll do a training camp in the Alps and a bit of reconnaissance of the stages in the Pyrenees. Between now and the Tour I still have a kilogram to lose to get down to 66 to 67kg for the start."

Froome enjoyed an untroubled day in the yellow jersey at the Dauphiné on Wednesday, although he admitted afterwards that he would have been happy to yield the overall lead to early escapee Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).

The Frenchman was the best-placed rider in the break of the day and spent much of the afternoon in the maillot jaune virtuel, only for the high speed in the main peloton to reduce his advantage before the finish in Gap. Bouet’s efforts saw him move up to seventh place overall, but Froome remains in first place, 12 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

"We were relaxed coming into the stage and it wouldn't have been the end of the world if Ag2r had taken the jersey from the break with Maxime Bouet in it, but in the end the race was so fast that we were able to keep it," Froome said. "We didn't want to take any risks on that last descent and we always had the situation under control."

Froome finished alongside Contador in the main group of favourites, 2:10 down on stage winner Yury Trofimov, and he paid tribute to his Sky team's work in controlling the race on the final climb, the Col de Manse.

"I was looked after from beginning to end again today, and even at the line I had three teammates there with me. It was a really good day for us, and as a team building towards the Tour de France, that's a really good sign."

While the doubleheader of tough mountain stages in the high Alps should see the firmest test of Froome's credentials between now and the end of the Dauphiné, Thursday's 189km leg to La Mure includes six categorised climbs, including the category 2 Côte de Laffrey with 20 kilometres remaining.

"There's a really steep climb towards the finish and that could provide a moment in the race where we can expect quite a few moves," Froome said. "We’re ready for that and, as always, our main objective will be to keep hold of the yellow jersey and limit any losses to the other GC riders."

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