Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) won the 6th stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, sprinting to the win ahead of countryman, Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale). Dan Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) led the main GC contenders home for 3rd place. Chris Froome (Team Sky) held on to the yellow leaders jersey.
At 151km but including 5 categorised climbs, the stage from La Rochette to Meribel was dubbed the Queen stage of this years Criterium du Dauphine. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka began the day with the hope of defending Daniel Teklehaimanot’s polka dot jersey. With these intentions in mind, the stage began with Teklahaimanot attacking from the gun.
Numerous other riders were keen on getting involved as well with eventually, a large group of 25 riders forming on the first category 1 climb of the day. Teklehaimanot was in the move along with teammate Serge Pauwels. Teklehaimanot took maximum points over the first climb of the day and then our Eritrean also crossed the summit of the category 2 Col du Grand Cherion next, in 1st position. This took Teklehaimanot’s points tally up to 37.
The next climb of the day was the 17km Col de la Madeleine and this is where things would really start to shake up. Attacks started to fly from the peloton, which was just over 2’00” down on the leaders at the start of the Madeleine. This meant the tempo in the break had to increase as well and Teklehaimaont was put into difficulty and subsequently dropped. Pinot went over the Madeleine first and picked up a handy 15 points with still 2 category 1 climbs to go.
Serge Pauwels was riding well in the front group and on the descent, our Belgian even managed to pull away from the rest of the leaders to lead the race solo just briefly. Bardet was able to get across to the much smaller front group just before the penultimate climb of the day, and his teammates in the break set a really hard tempo to open the gap to 3’00” over the yellow jersey group.
Pauwels lost contact on the peultimate climb of the stage as Pinot crested in 1st place with Bardet in tow. On the final 12km climb to the line, Bardet made his move, attacking with 8km to go. Only Pinot could respond while Team Sky set the tempo in the peloton, protecting the lead of Froome. Bardet and Pinot battled all the way to the top with Pinot just taking the win in the end. Along with the stage win, Pinot also picked up another 10 mountain points to put him on 37 points, equal to Teklehaimanot but with the Frenchman taking over the jersey.
On the stage placings, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka did not feature despite Pauwels and Teklehaimanot’s efforts in the break. Edvald Boasson Hagen did retain the Green points jersey though with just one more tough stage coming up tomorrow. As there are 6 categorised climbs to contend with during the final stage, the Polka Dot jersey competition will go down to the wire.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
Daniel and I got into the big breakaway which was a good situation for us because Daniel could try to get as many points as possible in the early climbs. He was first on two occasions and then on the Madeleine the race exploded and I tried to get away on the descent with a couple of guys. Unfortunately we didn’t get much of an advantage on the other guys in the break. Today was a really tough day which was great for the condition building toward the Tour de France, so I am happy with the day.