Team Sky Split Wiggins and Froome

CrieriumduDauphinegeneric45_3152209Could Dave Brailsford be trying to keep the squabbling kids apart for as long as possible? Team Sky have announced that Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome will be taking different paths ahead of this year’s Tour de France with Wiggins riding in the Tour of Switzerland (June 14-22) and Froome set for the Criterium du Dauphine (June 8-15).


Froome will be defending his title at the Dauphine (an event Wiggins won in both 2011 and 2012) after a block of training at altitude in Tenerife. Given the increased difficulty of this year’s mountainous route he will be joined by a climbing-focused line-up: Richie Porte, runner-up last year, returns alongside Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Danny Pate, Bayern Rundfahrt winner Geraint Thomas and Xabier Zandio.


Wiggins rides the Tour de Suisse off the back of his impressive win at the Tour of California, which was a key target for his season. Supporting him will be three team-mates from his recent success: Joe Dombrowski, Christian Knees and Luke Rowe, three of the Sky Giro d’Italia team – Dario Cataldo, Philip Deignan and Ben Swift – and Pete Kennaugh, part of last year’s Tour-winning team.


Team Sky Team Principal Dave Brailsford said: ‘Both the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de Suisse are WorldTour events and we are looking to perform in both races… Both of these races will form part of our selection for the Tour. We have to name 13 riders in a long list during June and we’ll do that from across the squad, including riders at the Route du Sud, not only those in the Dauphine and Tour de Suisse groups.’



Chris Froome Wins Criterium du Dauphine

Chris Froome Wins Criterium du DauphineChris Froome and Richie Porte took two of the top four positions – second and fourth respectively – on the mountainous final stage (155.5km, Sisteron to Risoul) at the Criterium du Dauphine yesterday (Sunday, June 9). Even more significantly the placing secured Froome the overall win of the week-long stage race, emulating Sir Bradley Wiggins, who triumphed in 2011 and 2012; Porte took second place just 58seconds adrift of his teammate with Katusha’s Daniel Moreno on +2:12 over Froome’s total time of 29hr 28’46”.


Speaking after yesterday’s stage Froome said, ‘This win is a massive achievement for me. I was using the Dauphine as build up to the Tour de France, but to have come away with the victory here, I couldn’t have asked for any more, and to have my best friend in second place is the perfect scenario. It would have been great to win the stage as well but we have already won two of those this week and it just proved impossible to reel in De Marchi in the end.’


Nicolas Portal, Team Sky Sports Director, added, ‘It was nice to finish with such a fantastic performance. The team were super strong and then Froomey and Richie rounded it off in style. Those two have ticked off every goal they’ve set this season, raced hard, and enjoyed a lot of success. That breeds massive confidence within the rest of team because they know their efforts won’t be wasted and that Richie and Froomey can deliver the results.’


Froome is now clearly one to watch at the Tour de France which begins on June 29 in Corsica.



Chris Froome Shines at Criterium du Dauphine

Chris Froome Shines at Criterium du DauphineTeam Sky have made an emphatic statement at the Criterium du Dauphine with Chris Froome winning Stage 5 – 139km, Gresy-sur-Aix to Valmorel – and moving into overall lead. On the Valmorel summit finish Froome reacted to an attack from rival Alberto Contador, shutting down him before riding clear to win in a time of 3hr 28’39”, four seconds ahead of the Spaniard. Garmin-Sharp’s Rohan Dennis took third place on +54.


Speaking after his victory, Froome (now surely a favourite for the Tour de France) said, ‘It’s definitely a good gauge for me to be able to test myself against someone like Alberto who has won multiple Grand Tours. To be able to finish in front of someone like him definitely gives me a lot of confidence, especially three weeks out from the Tour de France… Yesterday was a big test in the time trial to see where the other guys were. I’m happy with the result in that stage and today was a different kind of test in the mountains. Coming away with a stage win wasn’t really the plan, but I’m really happy that I can reward my team-mates with a stage victory because they did a super job looking after me. Especially in the final, Pete Kennaugh and Richie Porte were fantastic.’


With Sky’s Richie Porte currently enjoying second in the overall standings too, a clearly delighted Nicolas Portal, Team Sky Sports Director, added, ‘It was a great performance today. The plan was to try and take the jersey on the stage and open out an advantage on the GC if possible. Everything worked perfectly.’



Back on Track for Schleck?

Signs are good that the fracture to the vertebra suffered during the Critérium du Dauphiné by Andy Schleck, ending his 2012 Tour de France ambitions, is improving. The RadioShack star has just returned from further clinical examinations and MRI scans in Basel, Switzerland and team Head Doctor Andreas Gösele has indicated that things are slowly moving in the right direction, commenting: ‘The MRI scan showed clear signs of a good healing, but the fracture is not fully healed yet. This makes us feel optimistic that with some minor modifications of his bike position, temporary of course, he can now look at being a pro cyclist again and train like his colleagues soon.’


Schleck meanwhile has been far from idol – ‘I have been doing quite a lot of alternative sports, mainly swimming. Basically everything I can do without pain was good. I didn’t want to believe that my season had come to full stop in that crash.’



Sky Fly at Criterium du Dauphine

More great news for Team Sky at the Criterium du Dauphine today (June 6) with Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen taking first place on the 167km Stage 3 (Givors – La Clayette) in a time of 4h 22’ 13” and defending champion Bradley Wiggins maintaining his overall lead in the standings for yet another day.


Speaking after the exhausting stage the Norwegian commented: ‘The team did a good job to keep Bradley up the front and I could just sit behind. Yesterday I was riding a lot at the front but today I was able to conserve my energy for the sprint… I knew I had to find my own way to the line and at the finish I was sitting on Ciolek’s wheel and he had a good lead-out; I was just waiting for the last 150 metres before opening up my sprint and it was great to get the victory.’ Adding, ‘The main goal this week is the yellow jersey and I’m here to help Bradley win the race but I got the chance today to try for the sprint; I’m really happy to be in a team like this, it’s the best one you can be in.’


The Criterium du Dauphine continues with Stage 4 tomorrow with the 53.5km Individual Time Trial from Villié-Morgon to Bourg-en-Bresse.



Wiggins Takes Lead

20120605-103929.jpgSunday (June 3) saw defending champion Bradley Wiggins beaten into second place by 21-year-old junior world Time Trial champion Luke Durbridge at the prologue of the Critérium du Dauphiné; whilst yesterday’s 187km route (Seyssins to Saint Vallier) was bagged by Cadel Evans, with Wiggins in 61st place. Despite this, Wiggins takes the overall lead, one second ahead of the Australian TdF champ as they move into today’s Stage 2 160km from Lamastre to Saint-Felicien in the Ardennes.


Wiggins was clearly irked by questioning from reporters post-race who suggested that with the TdF just weeks away he had potentially peeked too soon here; the Team Sky rider snapped back: ‘I can never win whatever I do… If I didn’t take the jersey or perform here then I’m the biggest piece of rubbish out there but if I win here I’ve peaked too soon.’ – The Critérium du Dauphiné concludes on June 10.



Critérium du Dauphiné

Just time between getting over the excitement of the Giro d’Italia and revving up for the Tour de France to squeeze in the ever excellent Critérium du Dauphiné which runs its eight stages between June 3 and 10. Established, like so many great cycling events, by a newspaper (the Dauphiné Libéré) looking to promote both itself and the Dauphiné of France, the first running of the event took place in 1947 – Won by Polish rider Edouard Klabinski – and has always been seen as a precursor to the TdF.


Now celebrating its 64th Edition the Critérium du Dauphiné, which shortened its name from Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré in 2010 when Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) took over full organisational responsibility, will once again see top teams sporting top riders lining up for the 5.7km prologue in Grenoble this coming Sunday. Amongst them will be Sky’s Bradley Wiggins who finished first in the 2011 Overall Standings (on time, with 26h 40′ 51″) managing to nudge Cadel Evans into seconds at + 01′ 26″, making it clear what an indicator of the TdF it can be given that Evans went on to win le Tour (Wiggins crashing out).


In many ways the Critérium du Dauphiné can also be viewed as a distillation of all that is great about the TdF – the hills, the TTs, the dramatic sprints, the irrepressible French crowd support, the sheer Joie de vivre. Christian Prudhomme, Director of Tour de France, describes the 2012 edition thus: ‘After a long absence lasting 24 years, the Col du Gran Colombier ascent is back on the Critérium du Dauphiné agenda. Sports fans are waiting with bated breath to witness this year’s hot topic – the strengths and weaknesses in the time trials – between the prologue stage in Grenoble and the 53 km individual time trial between Villié-Morgon and Bourg-en-Bresse. The Rhone Alps region offers competitors a real chance to test their mettle, with its extremely wide range of landscapes, the slog of the roads through the Ardèche and the ascents leading to the mountain passes of Joux-Plane or Colombière. Perhaps this is where Bradley Wiggens, expected to reclaim his title this year, will have to fend off the threats of Cadel Evans, four-time runner-up and winner of the 2011 Tour de France.’


Prologue June 3 Grenoble – Grenoble    5.7 km

Stage 1 June 4  Seyssins – Saint-Vallier             187 km

Stage 2 June 5 Lamastre – Saint-Félicien 160 km

Stage 3 June 6 Givors – La Clayette 167 km

Stage 4 June 7 Villié-Morgon – Bourg-en-Bresse 53.5 km (ITT)

Stage 5 June 8 Saint-Trivier-sur-Moignans – Rumilly 186.5 km

Stage 6 June 9 Saint-Alban-Leysse – Morzine 167.5 km

Stage 7 June 10 Morzine – Châtel 124.5 km


Full details at



Sky’s the Limit

Wiggins8 days of action are over at the Critérium du Dauphiné with a decisive and important win for Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky. On the final day of action (117.5km Pontcharra – La Toussuire) Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) took the stage win but Wiggins had managed to stay ahead of his rivals since Wednesday’s Grenoble 42.5km Individual Time Trial to bag overall victory; making him only the third Brit to win the Dauphiné (a vital indicator of potential Tour de France mettle) after Robert Millar in 1990 and Brian Robinson in 1961. Team Sky’s Sports Director, Sean Yates, commented: “This is the biggest win Team Sky have had so far, there’s no doubt about that. The Dauphiné is a massive race with a super-strong field and pretty much anyone who’s anyone was here apart from Alberto Contador and the Schlecks. It’s often described as a mini Tour de France and you cannot underestimate the quality of this result, and the team’s performance.”


Cadel Evans of BMC, a runner up in Dauphiné between 2007 and 2009 and winner of this year’s Tirreno Adriatico and the Tour of Romandie, had, many thought, been the man to watch at this year’s event – but ultimately he had to settle for second place with Alexandre Vinkourov (Astana) taking third.


For full results and stage analysis see: