Westra Takes Stage 7 of Dauphine Libere; Contador Takes Overall Lead
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) has taken the lead in the 2014 Criterium du Dauphine Libere. The Spaniard dropped Chris Froome (Sky) with two km remaining in Stage 7, a 160-km ride from Ville-la-Grand to Finhaut-Emosson, to take the maillot jaune. Ahead, Lieuwe Westra (Astana) took the stage win after riding in a daylong break. The Dutchman overtook Katusha men Yuri Trofimov and Egor Silin in the last 200 m to win the stage in 4:32:51. Trofimov finished second at 0:07, and Silin took third at 0:16.
Westra narrowly missed a stage win yesterday, and his disappointment might have motivated him today. The Astana man attacked at 30 km, and Silin and Trofimov, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) joined him. After the day’s first climb, the Category 2 Col des Gets, Westra, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Lars Boom (Belkin), and Daniel Schorn (NetApp-Endura) bridged up to the move. At 60 km, the escapees led the field by six minutes, and Westra was maillot jaune virtuel. The gap maxed out at 7:45 before Tinkoff-Saxo Bank started chasing.
The break led the bunch by seven minutes as the day’s final two climbs, both of which were hors categorie ascents, approached. On the first of these, the Col de la Forclaz, Hesjedal accelerated. Trofimov attacked, and Hesjedal and Gallopin joined him. Behind, Sky joined Tinkoff-Saxo Bank at the front, and the pace and incline began to shell riders.
Silin and Westra joined the lead group, but Trofimov attacked and dropped his companions. At the summit, he had six minutes on the peloton.
On the descent, Silin joined Trofimov, and the pair attempted to distance themselves further from the field. At the base of the climb to the finish, they lead the peloton by 5:22.
Sky led the field up the ascent. Contador and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) made escape attempts, but the British squad reeled in both riders. Sky’s pacemaking greatly reduced the lead group, but all of the GC contenders remained together.
With five km left, Trofimov and Silin led the maillot jaune group by four minutes. At this point, the maillot jaune group was down to 10 riders.
Westra had been dropped, but the Astana man had never given up. In the last two km, he spotted the Katusha men. With 200 m left, he drew up to them and burst past them for the win.
Behind, the battle for the yellow jersey took place. With two km to go, Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) was dropped. Contador attacked and opened a gap. Richie Porte (Sky) could not close it. Froome could not respond immediately. He did so in the last km, and Hesjedal and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) followed him. Froome could not come to grips with Contador, and Hesjedal and Talansky passed him.
Contador was happy to have taken the overall lead and to demonstrate improvement in his form. “I didn’t get the stage win today, since we had given the breakaway a big advantage,” the Spaniard said. “But I managed to take 20 seconds on Froome and even more time on some of my other rivals, which means that I’ll be in the yellow jersey with just one stage to go. Even more important, I saw that I am getting better every day and that I’m progressing ahead of the Tour de France.”
In the overall, Contador leads Froome by 0:08 and Talansky by 0:39. Stage 8, the final stage of the Dauphine Libere, will be another standing shaker. The short (131.5 km) but intense ride from Megeve to Courchevel will feature three Category 1 climbs, including back-to-back ascents at the end of the stage. Will Contador fend off Froome, Talansky, and others? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!