Chris Froome knows that the best way to enter the very closed club of the five-time winners of the Tour de France on July 28 is to break a record this week. If the English wins the Critérium du Dauphiné next Sunday, he will become the first man to win four times in this event. For now, he is at the level of the French Nello Lauredi, Bernard Hinault, Charly Mottet and Spaniard Luis Ocana.
The leader of Ineos spent a quiet first day while the inaugural stage between Aurillac and Jussac announced treacherous. The idea was to prevent a gap too important with some fighters able to resist all week.
Mission accomplished because the stage ended in the sprint with the success of the Norwegian Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Dimension Data). Not the kind of rival that can make Froome tremble. For the moment, the latter, who remains on some races, is content with a speech as smooth as a step on the flat.
A message to send to Thomas and Bernal
"It's always a special race for me," he explains. She is ideal for launching the Tour campaign. This is a good step to check the condition. The course is well balanced. Since there is less pressure, you can run differently and take risks. There is a very large group of candidates for victory, it promises a good battle for a week. "
Logically, Froome should still be discreet in the next two steps. His first big meeting, he will have to honor Wednesday during the fairly rolling lap of 26.1 km around Roanne. That day, he will be alone and will have to show that his unusually mediocre start to the season is forgotten.
If Dumoulin, Bardet, Pinot or Quintana are on the same race as him, Froome will especially score points against two opponents who will watch on television: his teammates at Ineos, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, who have chosen the Tour de Switzerland rather than Dauphine to prepare the Tour. It is especially to these two men that Froome will try to show that he remains the strongest of his team …