Chris Froome takes lead of Ruta del Sol after beating Alberto Contador on stage four
Last Updated: 21/02/15 9:16pm
Chris Froome turned the tables on Alberto Contador at the Ruta del Sol in Spain by taking a two-second overall lead with a commanding solo victory on stage four.
Froome started the day 27 seconds adrift of Contador in the general classification but dropped his arch rival midway up the climb to the summit finish on Alto de Allanadas and beat him into second place by 29 seconds.
It means the race will now go down to the wire on Sunday’s fifth and final stage, which is largely flat but ends with a sharp 500m climb to the finish at Alhaurin de la Torre.
Team Sky placed two riders in the top three on the day after Mikel Nieve crossed the line in third, but Movistar’s Benat Intxausti remains third overall, 2min 32sec down on Froome, after finishing fourth.
Stage four was a reversal of Friday’s third stage, in which Contador had ridden away from Froome to win by 19 seconds.
This time Team Sky led the peloton on the 5.4km final climb, which carried a maximum gradient of over 20 per cent, and they worked brilliantly as a unit to eliminate all of Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates with a series of attacks.
After Nicolas Roche had set a fierce pace on the lower slopes, Peter Kennaugh and then Nieve both put in purposeful digs to whittle down the front group and isolate Contador.
Froome then made his own move and although Contador initially followed, the Spaniard soon fell away as he wilted on the sapping gradient.
The gap hovered for while at about 20 seconds, but then Froome stretched it further in the final 1km to snatch the red jersey by the narrowest of margins.
Stage four result
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 5:08:54
2 Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff-Saxo, +29secs
3 Mikel Nieve (Esp) Team Sky, +49
4 Sylwester Szmyd (Pol) Movistar, +59
5 Benat Intxausti (Esp) Movistar, +1:00
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, +1:13
7 Sebastien Reichenbach (Sui) IAM Cycling, +1:26
8 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1:27
9 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, same time
10 Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol, +1:38
1 1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 17:32:16
2 Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff-Saxo, +2secs
3 Benat Intxausti (Esp) Movistar, +2:32
4 Mikel Nieve (Esp) Team Sky, +2:52
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +3:13
6 Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky, +3:50
7 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Sky, +5:07
8 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, +5:10
9 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling, +5:30
10 Sergio Pardilla (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, +5:44