Froome Wins Last Stage of Dauphine Libere, Takes Overall
Chris Froome (Sky) has won the Dauphine Libere for the second time. Froome edged away from Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) to win Stage 8, a rugged, 156.5-km ride from Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc to Modane Valfrejus, in 3:59:27. Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) finished second and third, respectively, at 0:18. Van Garderen settled for fourth at 0:18, although his finish was good enough to secure second place overall.
The hostilities began early. A number of sallies led to the formation of the bread of the day by 28 km. The break members were Lars Boom (Astana); Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo); Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Soudal); Gorka Izagirre (Movistar); Gatis Smukulis (Katusha); Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step); Bruno Pires (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank); Cyril Gautier, Perrig Quemeneur, and Romain Sicard (all from Europcar); Julien Simon (Cofidis); Albert Timmer (Giant-Alpecin); and Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka).
On the descent of the Cote de Saint Georges-d’Hurtieres (77 km), Martin set out on his own. The German forged a 1:45 lead over his erstwhile companions and 3:50 over the Sky-led peloton. The Etixx-Quick Step man never had a chance, though, and the remnants of the break caught him with 17 km left. Cummings countered and took the lead.
At the base of the Category 1 ascent to the finish, Cummings led the peloton by 1:20, but Astana was having none of it. Astana captain Vincenzo Nibali accelerated to set up teammate Michele Scarponi. Scarponi’s move came with 5.5 km remaining, and it dropped Rohan Dennis, van Garderen’s last teammate, from the groupe maillot jaune. Froome’s teammate Wout Poels made a pace that reduced the maillot jaune group to Froome, van Garderen, Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Yates, Costa, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Scarponi, and Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin protected by POC).
With 2.6 km left, the maillot jaune group reeled in Cummings. Froome attacked, and van Garderen followed. The Briton gradually put daylight between himself and the American. Van Garderen began the day with an 18-second advantage over Froome, but the Sky man wiped out that advantage and won the overall with the 10-second time bonus that he received for winning the stage. Yates and Costa overtook the BMC man and took the remaining time bonuses (six and four seconds for second and third, respectively).
Froome, who won the 2013 edition of the Dauphine Libere but fell victim to a crash in last year’s edition and later crashed out of the Tour de France, dedicated the win to his teammates and said that his form and theirs were at or near where they should be. “I can’t believe it,” he said. “I couldn’t have expected it to go any better today. My legs were really tired after yesterday, and the whole team was suffering. I don’t know how they did it, but everyone lifted themselves with the yellow and blue jersey in sight. They gave everything. Ian Stannard rode alone for almost 100 km to control the breakaway, and the rest of the team were fantastic up to that moment where I could attack and put pressure on Tejay.
“The Dauphine was a big focus for me, but the Tour de France is the main objective. The team is ready, and I’m almost ready. We’re less than three weeks away now and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Froome won the Dauphine Libere by 0:10 over van Garderen and 0:16 over Costa. The Briton and many of the other riders will meet again in Utrecht, the Netherlands on July 4 to begin Tour de France 2015. How will they fare? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!