Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) won stage 7 of the Criterium du Dauphine, riding away from his breakaway mate Ben Swift (UAE Emirates) in the final kilometers of the stage. Jesus Herrada (Movistar) finished the stage in 3rd place and Richie Porte (BMC) held on to the overall lead.
Stage 7 of the Criterium du Dauphine was another big climbing day which saw a large breakaway form early on. 17 riders made it into the break of the day and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had Scott Thwaites in the move. The break rode away to a 6-minute lead as BMC controlled the peloton.
Midway through the stage Natnael Berhane called it a day, fatigue had caught up to our Eritrean climber after completing the Giro d’Italia just over a week ago. Upfront though, the race went on and the break reached the major obstacles for the day, the Cote de Garcin followed by the Col de Sarenne and then ending with the final 3km up to Alpe d’Huez. Unsurprisingly Thwaites got distanced on the penultimate climb as the break tried to keep the GC contenders at bay.
The peloton reached the climbs some 4-minutes behind the lead riders and were content to set a high tempo but no threatening attacks came early on. Serge Pauwels and Ben O’Connor were able to remain with the main group deep into the stage but when Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked with 15km to go, it was every man for himself.
Kennaugh and Swift put up a great fight though and were able to make it all the way to the line. Bardet was able to catch original breakaway riders Herrada and Jelle Venendert (Lotto-Soudal) just before the line, but did not have enough to come over them for 3rd. Porte led the GC contenders home some 40 seconds behind the Frenchman, and kept his yellow jersey.
Scott Thwaites – Rider
A lot of guys were trying to get into the break today as there was a chance it could stay away with guys having lost time on GC. I saw Serge was trying to go but he was blocked by BMC, with two small groups just ahead the gap opened for me and I thought I better go now to make sure we have someone upfront. I bridged across to the break and it was quite a big effort. We worked well together in the break and had a decent lead going into the final but climbing mountains is not really my specialty. I could have gone full gas from the bottom to see what I had in me but I would have paid for it tomorrow. From the start of the climb I rode my own tempo and kept a little for tomorrow.