Chris Froome finished the work of his Team Sky troops in emphatic style to win the fourth stage of the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico.
The Kenyan-born Brit, runner up in last year’s Tour de France and the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, rode away from Grand Tour champions, podium finishers and contenders in the final kilometre of the Queen stage to the ski resort of Prati di Tivo.
Multiple Grand Tour champion, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), was among those left trailing in Froome’s wake, along with defending champion, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Team Sky produced a commanding performance, with new signing, Dario Cataldo, and the Columbian duo of Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran, putting in Titanic turns, before peeling off for the next man, hauling back those among the world’s best stage racers who dared to attack, before Froome added the coup de grace.
When Contador, Nibali, and Mauro Santambrogio (Fantini Vini-Selle Italia) made a final bid for victory as they passed under the 1km to go banner, Froome left the Sky-led chasing group and accelerated straight past the trio.
Typically modest, Froome said he had enjoyed “an armchair ride” to the finish and had only had to face the wind for a kilometre: as understated a description of his devastating attack as is possible to imagine.
“To have the guys there who were with me on the climb – Rigo, Sergio and Dario – to have them pulling for me when guys like Nibali and Contador are attacking is a really good feeling,” he said.
Froome’s rivals appeared shell shocked by the ferocity of his assault. Santambrogio was the first to respond and so finished second, some six seconds after Froome; Nibali clung on to finish third, but lost 11 seconds in less than 1,000 metres; Contador lost 15. Rodriguez rolled in 43 seconds after Froome. Evans finished 1.15 down.
Despite Team Sky’s dominance, the Maglia Azzurra of race leader remains with Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Michal Kwiatkowski leads the race by four seconds from Froome, 16 seconds from Nibali, and 30 seconds from Contador.
Tomorrow’s 230km stage from Ortona includes three categorised climbs, including the 1310 metre Passo Lanciano, and a short, steep finish in Chieti.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 – stage four – result
1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 4.41.31
2) Mauro Santambrogio (ITA) – Vini Fantini-Selle Italia +6”
3) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana +11”
4) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +13”
5) Christopher Horner (USA) – RadioShack-Leopard +15”
6) Alberto Contador (SPA) – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
7) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Team Sky +20”
8) Wouter Poels (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM +43”
9) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha
10) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank +58”
1) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) – Omega Pharma-Quick Step +16.04.59
2) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +4”
3) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana +16”
4) Alberto Contador (SPA) – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank +30”
5) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Team Sky +33”
6) Christopher Horner (USA) – RadioShack-Leopard +40”
7) Mauro Santambrogio (ITA) – Vini Fantini-Selle Italia +55”
8) Jonathan Castroviejo (SPA) – Movistar +1.04
9) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank +1.16”
10) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha – ST