Today, Chris Froome announced himself as the overwhelming favourite for the 2013 Tour de France.
By winning stage five of the Critérium du Dauphiné at such cruel expense to Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), a multiple Grand Tour champion caught and passed by Froome with seeming ease, the Kenyan-born Brit proved himself the pick of the current bunch.
The terrain on which Froome exhibited his current prowess was another significant factor in the judgement of his prospects for the Tour, and the destruction of rivals including Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on such unremitting gradient was telling.
A relentless, 12.9km slope to the summit at Val Morel was hardly suited to the faint hearted, and when the ever aggressive Contador attacked, a natural racer seemingly incapable of biding his time in the bunch, Froome took matters into his own hands.
Team Sky will be rubbing their collective hands this evening. Not only did Froome step up to the mark, but Paris-Nice winner, Richie Porte, renewed his credentials as super domestique without equal.
Britain’s Pete Kennaugh, a member of Great Britain’s world and Olympic champion men’s team pursuit squad, proved himself equal to the vastly different terrain of the French Alps by providing good service to Froome.
Official UCI WorldTour photographer, Stefano Sirotti, found himself watching Sky again. Enjoy his best images from stage five.