Froome defends Dauphine lead

Chris Froome held on to the lead at the Criterium du Dauphine after Team Sky fought off a brave attack from nearest rival Alberto Contador.

Simon Spilak claimed another solo win for Katusha on stage five in La Mure after attacking out of a 17-man breakaway before the final climb of the day.

Froome finished in the main bunch 17 seconds behind Spilak, but the Team Sky rider did lose time to Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) and young British rider Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), who finished second and third after launching a dual attack to claim bonus seconds on the line.

The 184km fifth stage had looked to be a day for the breakaway and a large group eventually managed to establish a lead midway through the day.

The escapees had 2min 18sec on the chasing peloton as they approached the final climb and it was here where Spilak launched his racing-winning move to take Katusha's second solo win in as many days.

However, it was back in the main bunch where the real action was happening as Alberto Contador attacked off the front of the peloton on the descent of Col de la Morte.

The Spaniard was briefly joined by team-mate S?io Paulinho as the pair began the climb of the C?de Laffrey, and the Tinkoff-Saxo rider opened up his advantage on the peloton to over a minute.

Team Sky were losing men as they continued to set the tempo on the front of the main bunch as Contador began to reel in members of the breakaway as he pushed on up the final climb of the day.

Contador was eventually brought back with 17.7km to go as Richie Porte and Mikel Nieve drove the pace on the front of the thinned out peloton for Team Sky.

With the danger seemingly over for the day, Yates then jumped off the front of the main bunch on the way into the finish and was joined by Kelderman.

The pair worked well together to hold off the chasing peloton to claim bonus seconds on the line which sees the Dutchman move to within 12sec of Froome on the general classification.

After the stage, Froome admitted it had been tougher than he'd anticipated, but was delighted with the way his team-mates had responded to keep him in the leader's jersey.

He said: "Sometimes it's the days that don't look so hard on paper that turn out to be the really tough ones and today was non-stop. It took 85km for the breakaway to form and then Contador went up the road to put us under pressure. I still had four team-mates at that point though which meant I could stay calm in the knowledge they would pull him back.

"I'm feeling tired right now but I'm sure everyone will be tired after the day we've had. The team is coming together really well this week and they all stepped up again today."

Froome also admitted that Contador's late attack had caught him off guard, but he's prepared to dig deep on a tough final weekend in order to defend his jersey.

He added: "Either Alberto's not so confident about the weekend, or he feels very confident and is able to attack anywhere. That's what I respect about him; he does make the race entertaining and is prepared to take it up on the climbs and the descents.

"We didn't expect him to attack, we were expecting him to save it for Saturday, and the climbs on that day will be a lot more telling. I didn't have to do a lot today because of how my team rode, and that will serve me well for the weekend.

"I won't be holding anything back there in the fear of going too deep before the Tour [de France]. Any big efforts this week are only going to help in preparation for the Tour, and the Dauphine is the perfect opportunity to test our legs and try some big moves."