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Having attacked twice, Froome dropped Contador on the steep final climb on stage 5 OF THE Criterium du Dauphiné and then beat former teammate Porte in a 2-rider sprint; the Brit is the new leader of the race

Photo: A.S.O.








10.06.2016 @ 17:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Chris Froome (Sky) continued his recent dominance of the Criterium du Dauphiné by taking a magnificent victory in the first big mountain stage of the race. After a second attack, he made race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) crack and only former teammate Richie Porte (BMC) could follow the Brit. Froome beat his rival in a 2-rider sprint to move into the overall lead on the eve of the queen stage.


It seems that there’s one certainty in the cycling world. Every year in June, Chris Froome returns from his training camp in Tenerife to deliver a dominant showing in the mountains at the Criterium du Dauphiné. He first did it in 2013 and delivered another demonstration of force one year later before a crash took him out of contention. Last year he repeated the performance by riding to a second win in the race.


Many had asked themselves whether his dominance was about to be broken in 2016. The Brit had been firmly beaten by Alberto Contador in the mountain prologue and many were curious to see whether the Spaniard would finally be able to get the better of his archrival in one of the few WorldTour stage races he hasn’t won. However, after the first big battle in the mountains, Froome has firmly put those doubts to rest as he rode to another impressive stage win on the climb to Vaujany on stage 5.


While Contador cracked on the final climb, Froome got a new big rival. In his first big battle with former teammate Richie Porte, the Australian proved his huge class by staying with his former captain, only conceding one second in the uphill sprint in the end. Hence, the Australian now stands out as his big rival with two big mountain stages to go.


Like so often before, Froome had initially been in difficulty as he failed to respond when Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) launched the first attack. However, he slowly paced himself back to the front and then launched to big acceleration. Contador cracked when he made his second move and from there Froome and Porte worked together to increase their advantage.


After a very fast and exciting start to the race, it all came down to the battle on the final 6.4km climb. At this point, a five-rider group with Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18), Dayer Quintana (Movistar), Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Cyril Gautier (Ag2r) and Andriy Grivko (Astana) had an advantage of 1.10 over the peloton which was led by the Etixx-QuickStep team. Maxime Bouet set the pace before LottoNL-Jumbo surged forward with Alexey Vermeulen and Ben Gastauer took over for Ag2r. However, as they hit the climb, Sky had control with Ian Stannard riding on the front.


As soon as the front group hit the steep part, Gasparotto attacked. Quintana followed and Gautier gave chase but Grivko and Huzarski immediately sat up. Meanwhile, the peloton exploded under Salvatore Puccio’s (Sky) pressure, with Ryder Hesjedal (Trek), Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r) some of the first riders to lose contact.


Sky played their first card when they sent Mikel Landa off in an attack. Ben Hermans (BMC) joined the Basque and this forced Tinkoff to take control with Roman Kreuziger. Meanwhile, Gasparotto dropped Quintana.


Landa and Hermans passed Huzarski, Grivko and Gautier while Kreuziger reduced the group to around 15 riders. Sebastien Reichenbach (FDJ), Daniel Moreno (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Fabio Aru (Astana) were some of the big names to be distanced.


Gasparotto dug deep to maintain a 25-second advantage over the peloton but Landa was getting closer after he had dropped Hermans and passed Quintana. Meanwhile, Froome had briefly drifted backwards but was now moving up, gluing himself to Contador’s wheel.


With 3km to go, Landa caught Gasparotto who could only stay with the Basque for a few metres. He was quickly brought back as Kreuziger continued to chase hard.


Martin was the first to attack and initially only Sergio Henao (Sky), Bauke Mollema (Trek), Porte and Contador could follow. Froome just maintained his pace in the group that now only contained the Brit, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep), Romain Bardet (Ag2r), Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE). They picked up Mollema who was dropped from the Contador group.


Froome slowly paced himself and the group back to the Contador group and barely took any time to recover before he launched his first attack. Only Contador, Porte and Bardet could follow as they sprinted past Landa.


Bardet was the first to surrender and was passed by Martin who was in lone pursuit of the three leaders. That’s when Froome accelerated for the second time and now Contador couldn’t follow. Riding in third position, Porte also lost a bit of ground but he slowly paced himself back to Froome.


Martin caught Contador who was unable to contribute to the pace-setting while Porte started to work with Froome after he had recovered from his effort to close the gap. The pair kept increasing their advantage while a group with Yates, Mollema, Rodriguez, Alaphilippe, Landa and Bardet had gathered further back.


Yates bridged across to Martin and Contador who were now 20 seconds behind the leaders. At the same time Pierre Rolland (Canondale), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) and Diego Rosa (Astana) made it back to the Bardet group.


Contador finally came through to take a turn when the chasers hit a small descent with 2km to go. However, they continued to lose group to Froome and Porte who were cooperating excellently.


Porte led the leaders onto the short 400m ramp to the finish but he couldn’t respond when Froome passed him. The Brit launched a furious sprint and Porte had to let him go in the final metres, losing one second at the line. 19 seconds later Yates beat Martin in a close sprint, with Contador losing another 2 seconds in the sprint. After Landa had made a failed attack, Bardet put two seconds into his group, crossing the line 25 seconds behind Froome, with Rolland being the first of the group at 27 seconds.


With the win, Froome moves into the lead with a 7-second advantage over Porte while Contador is now third 27 seconds behind the Brit. Froome faces an even bigger challenge tomorrow in the queen stage. After a tough start with a category 1 and 2 climb, the riders will face the mighty Col de la Madeleine at the midpoint. A long descent leads to another category 1 climb before the riders get to the bottom of the final category 1 ascent that averages 6.6% over 12.3km.


A big mountain stage

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was finally time to head back into the Alps on stage 5 which brought the riders over just 140km from La Ravoire to a mountaintop finish in Vaujany. The first half of the race was brutal as it included six categorized climbs, with the category 1 Col du Barrioz being the biggest challenge. The final half was significantly easier but the final 40km were all uphill. It all culminated with the final 6.4km climb that averaged 6.5%. It was a very irregular affair with two brutally steep kilometres of more than 10%. With 1400m to go, there was 1000m of slight descending leading to a final 400m ramp to the finish.


No less than four riders decided not to embark on the hardships in the mountains and stayed at the hotel this morning. Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r), who crashed yesterday, Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek), Chad Haga (Giant-Alpecin) who are both exhausted after a tough period, and Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) were all non-starters while the rest of the field headed towards the Alps in bright sunshine.


Fernandez abandons

The neutral zone was quite dramatic as with Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) crashed. He was able to continue, but had to abandon after just a few kilometers. Also Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) punctured before the delayed real start was given.


As expected it was a brutal start with several attacks. After 10 riders had briefly gone clear, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) attacked before the bottom of the day's first climb. He was joined by Tony Martin (Team Quick Step) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), but they were quickly caught. While Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) was dropped from the peloton, a Sky rider attacked but he had no success either . Later Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana), Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) and Geoffrey Soupe (Cofidis) also lost contact.


Poels rides aggressively

After an Ag2r rider had tried a move, Wout Poels (Sky) went again. Alexi Vuillermoz (Ag2r) set off in pursuit as did Ben Hermans (BMC), Perrig Quéméneur (Direct Energie) and Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida). The group reached the summit with a small lead and it was Grmay who beat Hermans in the KOM sprint. However, Tinkoff neutralized the offensive moments later.


Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) attacked on the descent, but he had no success Also, the octet that attacked just before the second climb was brought back. At the same time, the elimination continued from behind where Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM), Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin), Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal), Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo) Nacer Bouhanni and Borut Bozic (Cofidis) were among the many who lost contact .


Vuillermoz and Voeckler take off

Sky continued their aggressive riding but they were not there when Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r) and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) got away on the descent after the latter had won the KOM sprint. They were joined by Grmay, but the field chased hard and kept the distance at about 15 seconds. Movistar was setting the pace while several riders tried to bridge the gap, including riders from Movistar and Astana.


Daniel Teklehaminanot (Dimension Data) was the next to try his hand, and suddenly a 16-rider group gathered around the Eritrean. As they approached from behind, Tinkoff took control in the peloton before they hit the Col du Barrioz. At this point, the gaps were 10 and 37 seconds respectively.


A big chase group is formed

Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) was the first to bridge across to the front trio before Andriy Grivko (Astana) and Björn Thurau (Wanty) also made the junction. At the same time, the chase group got bigger and it now numbered 26 riders while the 30-rider peloton lost ground. They were quickly one minute behind the front sextet.


The chase group consisted of Wout Poels (Team Sky), Damiano Caruso, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Roman Kreuziger, Robert Kiserlovski (Tinkoff), Steve Morabito, Sébastien Reichenbach (FDJ), Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx-Quick Step), Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), Jan Bakelants, Cyril Gautier (AG2R), Jens Keukeleire (Orica GreenEdge), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal), Edvald Boasson Hagen, Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), Ryder Hesjedal (Trek Segafredo), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar ), Tom-Jelte Slagter, Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale), Alexey Vermeulen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jérôme Coppel (IAM Cycling) Dominik Nerz, Paul Voss (Bora - Argon 18), Luka Pibernik (Lampre-Merida) and Lars van there Haar (Giant-Alpecin) and they were now 27 seconds behind the leaders Marco Haller (Katusha) found himself 55 seconds behind, but he never made the junction.


A formidable break of climbers

After a tough chase, the two groups merged in front but the elimination started quickly. Vandenbergh, Vermeulen, van der Haar, Van Baarle and Nerz were all dropped after the first hour which was completed at an impressive 40 km/h despite the hilly terrain.


Teklehaimanot beat Grmay, Voeckler, Poels, Bakelants and Reichenbach in the KOM sprint before the peloton reached the top 1.30 later. On the descent, Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) crashed, but he got back on the bike.


The break splits up

In the peloton, Tinkoff control with four riders and reduced the gap to 1.15 before they hit the Col des Ayes. The gap was reduced to 45 seconds when Teklehaimanot beat Thurau, Grmay and Boasson Hagen in the KOM sprint.


At the bottom of the Col Mouilles, Van Avermaet, Gautier and Thurau had a slight gap while the field was 1.15 behind. Another four riders had made the junction came up, the break was later divided into two major groups. Unfortunately, Reichenbach had a mechanical before Poels won the KOM sprint. Astana controlled the peloton 1.40 behind the leaders.


Grivko takes off

A regrouping took place in front before Grivko attacked in a solo move. He quickly got a lead of 20 seconds, while Voss lost contact with the 24 chasers. With 73km to go, the gap had gone out to 40 seconds while the peloton was still 1.40 behind.


The bunch approached from behind, and when the gap to the chasers was only 30 seconds, Gautier tried to bridge across to Grivko. Shortly after, the large chase group was caught but it only gave rise to lots of new attacks. Gautier was joined by seven riders, but they only had a lead of 10 seconds at the bottom of the sixth climb. They were quickly caught, and thus Grivko was the only man in front with a lead of one minute after another hour where the average speed was still an impressive 38.2km/h.


Four riders make the junction

While Teklehaimanot was one of many to get dropped, Gautier, Dayer Quintana (Movistar), Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty) and Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18) attacked, and they quickly reduced the gap to 40 seconds. At the same time, the peloton took a small breather. Gasparotto led the chasers over the top 30 seconds behind Grivko while the peloton got there with a deficit of 1.50.


While Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal) abandoned the race due to an allergic reaction stemming from a bee sting, Grivko waited for his chasers. Hence, five riders had gathered in front with an advantage of 2.40 after the peloton had taken a small breather. That allowed Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) to rejoin the peloton after a puncture.


Tinkoff in control

Tinkoff took control with Michael Gogl, Sergio Paulinho and Michael Valgren who had to ride hard just to keep the gap stable. It was still 2.30 when the peloton entered the final 40km.


Tinkoff were definitely not taking it easy and Gogl, Paulinho and Valgren slowly started to reduce the gap. As they got to the final 25km, there were only 1.50 left of the advantage but the escapees reacted strongly to the faster pace and had added 15 seconds to their lead five kilometres later.


A big figh for position

While the fight for position started, the escapees worked well together to maintain an advantage of 2.05. It was BMC that took over with 12km to go where Rohan Dennis hit the front and moments later Daryl Impey took over for Orica-GreenEDGE.


Marc Soler moved the Movistar riders up next to the Orica-GreenEDGE train as the peloton reached the final 10km 1.50 behind the leaders. However, it was FDJ that won the battle and lined up three riders on the front. Meanwhile, Bouhanni abandoned.


Arthur Vichot set a brutal pace for FDJ and made the peloton split to pieces as the approached the final climb. When Jeremy Roy took over with 7km to go, the gap was only 1.10. Moments later Etixx-QuickStep came to the fore and then the exciting finale started.



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