Criterium du Dauphine #8: Fireworks on final stage

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) won the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine and the general classification from Richie Porte (BMC Racing) by just 10 seconds. Dan Martin (Quickstep-Floors) finished 2nd on the stage with Louis Meintjes (UAE Emirates) taking 3rd place.

The final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine was contested over just 115km but as the saying goes, dynamite comes in small packages and today, the race certainly blew to pieces on the 4 categorised climbs. Initially our African Team was looking to send some riders up the road, hoping the peloton would let them go. Ben O’Connor and Edvald Boasson Hagen were both very active and made a 23 rider lead group which we thought could be the break of the day.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) had other ideas though and wanted to take the racing to Porte by attacking on the first climb and with still 90km to go. The break with our two African Team riders was snapped up real quick due to the attack from GC favourites. It was evident we would have to take a backseat to the main GC contenders as they continued to try and put Porte under pressure.

Over the penultimate climb of the day, Fabio Aru (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) had a 1’oo” lead over all the favourites except for Froome and Porte, who were a further 30″ back. Froome then rode away from Porte on the descent, bridged to the other GC contenders as they also reeled in Aru and Valverde. Porte was left to fend for himself with no one else around him and still 20km to go, including the final 12km climb.

Porte started the final climb 1’00” behind the GC contenders and he only had 1’15” to play with. Martin and Fuglsang attacked with 6km to go before Fuglsang then went solo. Porte was doing an incredible job to reel in the other GC contenders though as they started to weakening. Fuglsang was not showing any signs of weakening though and neither was Meintjes as he attacked with 3km to go.

In the end Fuglsang arrived at the finish in Plateau de Solaison first, Martin 2nd and Meintjes 3rd. Porte arrived exactly on 1’15” behind Fuglsang but the time bonus for coming first gave the Danish rider the win by just 10 seconds. O’Connor and Boasson Hagen were the first two finishers from our African Team, coming home some 11-minutes down on the big names.

Roger Hammond – Sports Director

We came here with high aspirations particularly in the beginning of the week with Eddy and then to see where Serge was climbing wise before the Tour. Eddy got himself into the right place at the right time which means the form is good but as sprints go, a little bit of luck is needed or a full leadout train and to be realistic that’s not what we came here with. Serge made it into the break on the first climbing stage but then an absolutely ridiculous tactic saw his break getting caught. When that team starts defending their poor decision then you know it’s not just us taking it personally but they had some internal problems as well. That’s bike racing though and what makes it intriguing. What can we take from this week, well the guys came here to build on their form ahead of the Tour and we saw several top 10’s and some strong performances. Sure we would have liked a few better results but for the same money, Serge could have had a win with a bit of luck and Eddy was close as well. The season started off at slower pace for us this year but its really picked up the last 4 weeks and that timing is perfect heading to the Tour, so morale is high.