6 Jun 2016 - 7:01 AM  UPDATED 6 Jun 2016 - 7:02 AM

Alberto Contador signaled his strong form a little less than a month before the Tour de France starts with a fine victory in the Criterium du Dauphiné prologue.

Contador (Tinkoff) was the fastest against the clock in the brutal four-kilometer ascent to the top of the Mont Chery in the Alps.

Australia's Richie Porte (BMC) was second, six seconds back, while two-time Tour winner Chris Froome (Sky), who set the early pace,  lagged 13 seconds behind in third position.

“I knew there was a good trial on this course but I didn't know if it were tough enough to win," Contador said. "

"My legs were missing speed, my heart was beating like crazy but I can't say it's a surprise to beat Chris Froome however, I didn't expect to win.

"It was a very hard time trial, especially from km 2 to 1km to go with a gradient of more than 20 per cent. You had to do the first part really fast and keep the rhythm there as well. The fact it was hard suited me really well.”




Monday 6 Jun 2016

Richie Porte has put down an early marker at the Criterium du Dauphine placing second in Sunday’s gruelling uphill prologue behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).

The 31-year-old finished six seconds in arrears of Contador at the end of the 4km time trial in the French ski resort Les Gets, with former Sky teammate Chris Froome rounding out the podium.

The hill climb averaged 9.7 per cent, which belied the difficulty of the course that featured nine hairpin bends and sectors pushing 20 per cent.

Porte (BMC) had designs on the opener and was happy with his first showing at the race that doubles as a Tour de France prelude.

“I’ve flown under the radar so much this year, no one has even mentioned my name, so I think it’s good to come into this race with less pressure and certainly there was no hiding today,” he said.

“I think it’s good for me in the big picture.”

The Tasmanian was the penultimate rider to leave the start gate, a minute after Contador, and finished six seconds in arrears of the Spaniard.

“I think we were 500m, we were quite close, but I just blew that last bit. It was such a hard prologue,” he said. “It’s a bit different to a normal, stock standard flat prologue.”

Froome departed almost two hours before the pair and was only ousted from the hot seat when they came in.

Porte has alluded to a conservative game plan until the weekend where the leader’s jersey may be decided.

 “There are no easy days here,” he said. “I think it’s nice now that Tinkoff have to defend. We’ll save it all, as much as we can, for the weekend.” 

"I'm happy with that. It's a good gauge of how I've pulled up after Tenerife and a long break from racing. I felt good, and although you can't read much into 4km, the feelings I'm getting are good. We'll have our work cut out this week though, with Richie (Porte) and Contador here. They are the main guys to beat.

"This week is a good chance to get some racing intensity in the legs and given that we've got a few guys here who will probably go into the Tour de France squad, it's really important for us to get through the week as best we can in terms of working together. We've got a fantastic team here: guys who are leaders in their own right, so there could be some really exciting racing."