Chris Froome seals Criterium du Dauphine victory


Britain's Chris Froome firmly established himself as one of the favourites for the 2013 Tour de France as he claimed victory in the week-long Criterium du Dauphine stage race.

The 28 year-old, who will be riding for Team Sky, took the title from two-time winner Sir Bradley Wiggins who was absent due to injury. 

Froome finished second on yesterday's final stage in the French Alps behind Italy's Alessandro De Marchi, but the result was still more than enough for him to claim an impressive fourth title of the year.

Richard Porte, also of Team Sky, finished second in the overall standings - 58 seconds behind. 

The Dauphine is a good indicator of a rider's form heading into the Tour, which starts on 29 June, and Froome will now hope to emulate Wiggins, who followed his Dauphine triumph 12 months ago by becoming the first British Tour de France winner.

"It's a positive test for the Tour de France. I'll do everything to win it as well. We've good reason to be confident with such a great team," he said to reporters.

However, the Kenyan-born Brit, who finished second behind Wiggins last year, insists he is just one of several contenders for the yellow jersey.

"I have won the Dauphine, and other races before, but the counter is back to zero when the Tour starts. There will be six to seven main contenders for overall victory. The names? [Alberto] Contador, [Alejandro] Valverde, [Joaquim] Rodriguez, [Cadel] Evans, [Tejay] Van Garderen and [Nairo] Quintana are all capable of strong rides."

In May, Team Sky confirmed Froome would lead their challenge at the Tour de France ahead of team-mate Wiggins, who has since been ruled out of defending his title in the three-week race because illness and injury have left him insufficient time to train for it.

His Dauphine victory follows successes at the Tour of Oman, Criterium International and Tour de Romandie.

"It's been a dream scenario," Froome added. "To come away with the victory plus one of my best friends and team-mate Porte in second place overall, I couldn't ask for more.

"Tonight I'll be able to have a drink with my team-mates to celebrate this great win. In the coming days, we'll go and recognise some mountain stages of the Tour."

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