Vogondy Climbs to Stage 4 Win in 2010 Dauphine Libere
Team RadioShack's Janez Brajkovic increases overall race lead.
Frenchman Nicolas Vogondy surged to victory in the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on Thursday, a success that seemed unlikely at the start of the year when he was denied a licence because of heart problems.
The two-times French champion, who won on his own at the top of the climb to the ski resort of Risoul, was told he could not race by the French federation in January after he was found to be suffering from an irregular heartbeat.
He was later cleared to ride after further medical checks and the 32-year-old proved he could still change rhythm when it counted, accelerating in the last two kilometres to beat his rivals.
His compatriot Romain Sicard was second, 12 seconds behind. Overall leader Janez Brajkovic of Slovenia was third with two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador close behind, a further two seconds adrift.
The impact on the overall standings was limited although Vogondy climbed to fifth, 2:43 behind Brajkovic.
"I was twice French champion but this is even better to win in a race in which you have guys like Contador or Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez. It is a dream come true," said Vogondy, who rides for French team Bouygues Telecom.
"The team has collected good results since the start of the season and I hope it will help (team director) Jean-Rene Bernaudeau find new sponsors at the end of the season," he added.
Helped for most of the finale by his RadioShack team and especially by American Chris Horner, yellow jersey holder Brajkovic was content with staying behind Contador once he found himself without any team mates left.
The Slovenian even outsprinted the Spaniard to the line.
Contador also had reasons to be happy. After losing the race lead to Brajkovic in Wednesday's 49-kms time trial, he remained true to his word and kept testing himself on the changes of tempo over the final 15 kilometres.
Friday's 5th stage to Grenoble includes two big climbs, the Lautaret pass early on and the ascent to Chamrousse near the finish.