Britain’s Chris Froome completed a start-to-finish victory in the Tour de Romandie on Sunday, enhancing his status as the Tour de France favorite.
Sky Procycling’s Froome placed third in the closing time trial won by Tony Martin of Germany, extending his advantage over Slovakian Simon Spilak in the overall standings.
“It gives me confidence,” said Froome, who was second last year in cycling’s biggest event. “It’s definitely a good omen, but the Tour is still two months away and I need to do a lot of hard training.”
The Sky team leader aims to follow teammate Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans of Australia as Romandie champions who went on to win the Tour de France in the past two years.
Froome was seven seconds faster than Spilak on the 18.7km route on lakeside roads on Sunday in Geneva and he won the six-day race by 54 seconds. His total time was 19 hours, 24 minutes, 51 seconds.
“I’m really happy with my condition now,” the 27-year-old Froome said, praising the Sky riders for protecting him in the peloton after he won Tuesday’s prologue. “It’s just been a really, really good week for us.”
Martin clocked 21 minutes, 7 seconds on Sunday to finish 16 seconds faster than Adriano Malori of Italy. Froome trailed Martin by 34 seconds and Spilak placed fifth.
“I put everything in my legs today and I’m happy,” said Martin, the two-time time trial world champion and Olympic silver medalist behind Wiggins in August last year.
Froome said he was still learning as a leader on the road, after Sky orders required deferring to Wiggins in July last year, and that finishing Saturday’s rain-swept main mountain stage just behind Spilak, effectively sealing overall victory, repaid his teammates’ efforts.
“I think the biggest thing I learned this week was how important it was to be able to deliver [on Saturday],” Froome said. “It really kept everyone’s morale high when they were pulling for me all week. Yesterday [Saturday], they saw I was able to finish the job.”