Chris Froome takes lead in Criterium du Dauphine

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Britain's Chris Froome claimed victory in the fifth of the eight stages of the Criterium du Dauphine earlier today, taking the overall lead of the Tour de France warm-up event.

The Team Sky rider out-climbed his nearest challenger, Alberton Contador, by four seconds to win the 139km (86 mile) stage. 

Froome, 28, who will act as Sky's lead rider in this year's Tour de France in the absence of Olympic Champion and last year's winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, is now 52 seconds clear of team-mate Richie Porte in the overall standings.

Garmin's Rohan Dennis is in third place overall, 54 seconds off Froome, with Contador a distant two minutes 49 seconds adrift of the leader with three stages to go.

The Spaniard, who missed last year's Tour de France while serving a doping ban caused by his use of clenbuterol, fell out of contention after a poor time-trial performance on Wednesday.

His attempts to claw back some of the time lost to Froome on the final serious climb of Thursday's stage failed as Team Sky covered his attempted break with relative ease.

Froome, who had been supported by Porte and Peter Kennaugh as the stage reached its climax in the mountain village of Valmorel, then rode clear to take the yellow jersey in style.

The Critérium du Dauphiné is an annual race that was inaugurated in 1947 by a local newspaper, the Dauphiné Libéré. Along with the Tour de Suisse, the Dauphiné is an important race in the lead-up to the Tour de France in July, and it is part of the UCI World Ranking calendar.

Because the Dauphiné is a mountainous area, the winners are often climbing specialists. Many climbs that are famous from the Tour de France – like the Mont Ventoux, the Col du Galibier or Col de la Chartreuse – appear often in the Dauphiné Libéré.

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