Solo attack by Alberto Contador during stage five of the Dauphine causes Sky to chase hard to protect Chris Froome's lead

Alberto Contador put Chris Froome‘s lead to the test today in France’s Critérium du Dauphiné with an unexpected attack on a descent. He said that he wanted to try to rattle Team Sky ahead of the big weekend stages to come.

“I didn’t think to attack, not at all and not because I saw a weakness in team Sky,” Tinkoff-Saxo’s Spaniard said. “I went because it was hard day for everyone. I tried to shake things up.”

The race in the country’s southeast travelled through the Alps where Contador rode towards two Tour de France wins. Today, he followed his team-mate Sergio Paulinho on the descent of the Col de la Morte with more than 25 kilometres to race and worked to gain a 1-20-minute advantage on Froome, effectively taking over the lead by more than one minute.

“I knew that it’d be difficult to arrive to the finish line, but I thought that if I could get to the head of the race, to Simon Spilak, then maybe I’d have a chance,” Contador said. “When I saw I couldn’t do it, at that point [with 17km to race], I eased up.”

Froome did not respond immediately but turned to his team-mates Richie Porte and Mikel Nieve. Porte lifted the pace on the final Côte de Laffrey climb until Contador had no choice but to surrender to Froome.

“I said to my guys that we’ll take the descent at a reasonable pace, some of the tarmac is melting, he could probably pick up that we weren’t going to go all out and he pushed the limits,” Froome said.

“You can read his attack in two ways: he’s not so confident with the weekend to come – with the queen stage on Saturday – or he’s very confident. That’s one thing I respect about him, he’s not afraid to take the race on, not on the climbs or on the descent.”

Froome leads the race with 12 seconds on Contador and third-placed Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) with three days remaining: one relatively easy stage tomorrow and two mountain-top finish stages this weekend. He made those gains in the first day’s time trial in Lyon and the following day up the Col du Béal.

“The biggest days are to come, but on the two important days so far, Froome has already showed to be stronger than me,” Contador added. “However, my true goal, the Tour de France, is still 22 days away.”

  • kclukey

    Without an A-list team, Contador was able to mark Froome- something very few riders have done recently. His capture of the yellow jersey was no great surprise once Froome crashed, but losing to Talansky was. AC should be embarrassed to have made this mistake- assuming that he had enough left to have caught Andy had he been paying closer attention. Chapeau to Talansky- he’s the tactics/strategy lesson for CDD2014.

  • Dilkington

    Wow, that’s a lot of rather irrational hating on Contador. Did you actually watch the stage? Contador was alone for much of his initial attack and collected up stragglers to try and form a breakaway to stay away from Froome nearer to the top of the final big climb. Hardly sitting on someone’s wheel the whole time.

    I agree that the coverage was a little dramatic though. I couldn’t watch live, but all of the coverage, especially the headlines, gave the impression that Contador really put it to Froome and had him struggling to reel him back in. In reality, Contador put in a nice little break, tried to rally together a breakaway formed of previous break stragglers and couldn’t do it, while Froome/Nieve/Porte reeled him back in without any real panic at all.

    • poisonjunction

      ‘A lot of rather irrational hating on Contador’ …. Where? Only in your mind, not mine?

      ‘Did you actually watch the stage?’ …. Proving, actually you didn’t read my comment!

      Such an unnecessarily emotive response, and you didn’t watch the race!

      Seems what you lack is observational skills ……… Contador isn’t alone using the ‘camera bike’ tactic, it’s just that it’s so obvious to other riders in the race, who time after time see him ‘getting away’ with it, and the tactic spreads to others in the peloton ……. ‘catch up’ with Fridays stage and you can see an example pulled by Astana’s Westra – in fact he gets so close, he almost knocks the cameraman of his perch, and has to swerve away to avoid running into the back wheel, however he does benefit from the draft of the other camerabikes!

      Its just that Contador was in on it earlier – he’s being doing it for years, and because the film directors believe it puts ‘pants on seats’ they encourage the camera’s to be ‘in close on the action’ – what ever happened to telephoto lenses? No one ‘see’s it’, and those that do look the other way, a bit like CW reporters – it doesn’t do to advertise ‘top’ riders misdemeanors!

      In reality it would take only two or three riders to be DQ’d doing it, for the tactic to quickly lose it’s ‘acceptance’.

      If the Westra vid doesn’t convince you, then you’ve succumbed to Contadors brainwashed followers who still think he shouldn’t have been DQ’d!
      Just keep replaying the hilly break attempts, and you’ll understand. [Future apologies accepted}

  • poisonjunction

    ‘Contador puts Chris Froome Under pressure ,,,,,,’ and FAILED ,,,, that’s three stages he’s tried ….. against the clock …. uphill …… downhill …. and failed …… that includes a Stage Two ‘armchair’ ride the entire day, including the mountains …. behind Chris ….. simple!

    In fact I believe today is the first time in the Dauphine that Contador has relinquished Chris Froome’s back wheel!
    I’m amazed Contador managed to find his way about, despite previous visits, bet he didn’t like the head wind – oh, of course he was still behind someone, his own teammate!

    Nibali is having a quiet time, but might pull something out of the bag, tho’ the podium may be a ‘bridge to far’! IMHO

    The probable revelation here is young British rider Adams, he effectively won the week longTour of Turkey on a mountain stage. His brother had retired earlier with collar bone injury! One to watch for …!