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"Now, we’re facing the two hardest and deciding stages of the race and we’re all looking very much forward to it," Mauduit says

Photo: Jacinto Vidarte

ALBERTO CONTADOR

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CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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SERGIO PAULINHO

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13.06.2014 @ 18:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For Tinkoff-Saxo, it was all about survival in today's sixth stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné and the team got safely through a potentially tricky day. While teammate Sergio Paulinho got the chance to fight for a stage win in the breakaway, Alberto Contador saved his energy for the very mountainous weekend.

 

It was the last chance for the sprinters and the heavier part of the field to shine on today’s 178.5 kilometer long sixth stage of the Dauphiné from Grenoble to Poisy before taking on two cruel mountain stages this weekend.

 

With a flat start of the day, a big break of 16 riders including Tinkoff-Saxo’s Sergio Paulinho took off and created the long-lasting front group while a rather hilly finale was on the menu in the final part of the stage. Other promiment names in the break were Jens Voigt (Trek Factory), Jan Bakelants and Zdenek Stybar (Omega-Pharma Quick Step). In the field, Team Sky managed the pace-setting to defend the leader’s jersey and it seemed like an exciting finale was due as the gap with 35km to go was five minutes.

 

That led FDJ to take part of the fun in the front of the field but it was too late. With 21 kilometers remaining, Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol) launched the first attack from the break and he was joined by Lieuwe Westra (Astana) and Jan Bakelants. As Westra launched a fierce move in the lumpy finale, Ligthart was dropped and the front duo worked perfectly together until 2 kilometers to go.

 

Here, a chess game on bikes commenced and they were literally standing completely still eyeing each other risking the chasers to bridge the gap. Westra seemed like the stronger rider throughout the whole finale and when he opened the sprint with 300 meters to go, he looked like a winner. But on the very final meters, Bakelants made it past the Astana rider and took the stage win.

 

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Paulinho crossed the finish line with the rest of the chasers while team leader, Alberto Contador finished in the bunch and is still second overall before going in to the big mountains tomorrow.

 

“As I mentioned earlier, this was the final chance for any other than the climbers to fulfill their goal of a stage win and Sergio took the chance," sports director Philippe Mauduit said. "Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to bridge the gap to the front duo.

 

"As Froome crashed not eh descent, we decided to wait in the respect of the jersey. Now, we’re facing the two hardest and deciding stages of the race and we’re all looking very much forward to it."

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