Vingegaard Wins Stage 7 of Criterium du Dauphine
Saturday’s stage 7 of Criterium du Dauphine 2023 was a battle in the mountains. The 147.9-kilometer route from Porte-de-Savoie to the legendary Col de la Croix de Fer included no less than two Hors Categorie (outside category) climbs – the mythical Col de la Madeleine and the Col du Mollard - and concluded on the Category 1 Col de la Croix de Fer. Team Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard was the general classification leader before today’s penultimate stage of this year’s Criterium du Dauphine.
The climbers in the Criterium du Dauphiné peloton were looking forward to today’s menu and it did not take long after the start before the first attacks were launched to form a viable breakaway group that would set out to conquer the French mountains. It did, however, take a while before any breakaway hopefuls would prove successful.
127 kilometers from the finish multiple attacking groups had formed.
With 85 kilometers left of today’s strenuous mountain battle, Remi Cavagna (Soudal-QuickStep), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Madis Mihkels (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), and Lotto-Dstny’s Victor Campenaerts were leading the race, while Reuben Thompson (Groupama-FDJ), Anthon Charmig (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), and Tobias Bayer (Alpecin-Deceuninck) were chasing approximately two minutes behind the leaders.
The peloton was approximately five minutes behind and was spearheaded by Ineos-Grenadiers up the mythical Col de la Madeleine (24.8 kilometers; 6.1 percent average gradient).
With approximately thirty kilometers left of the stage, Campenaerts had attacked solo and led the stage 01:14 minutes ahead of Charmig and Bayer, while the main peloton – led by Jumbo-Visma – was 02:02 minutes behind the leader.
Beyer was caught 27.5 kilometers from the finish. Later, Charmig was reeled in, while Campenaerts was leading the race while contesting the Hors Categorie Col du Mollard (18.3 kilometers; 5.7 percent average gradient). Campenaerts was first to reach the top of the climb and crossed the mountaintop while smiling and waving his hands. He had done it!
Unfortunately, Campanaerts’ lead over the main peloton was down to fifteen seconds and it would be an intense chase on the dangerous descent. Fortunately, the roads were dry, but the tarmac was old and damaged.
A smiling Campenaerts was finally caught 12 kilometers from the finish line and the main peloton headed by Jumbo-Visma pressed on up the climb.
With 5.5 kilometers left the main peloton had been reduced to about eight men. General Classification leader Vingegaard launched an attack with 5.3 kilometers left and continued solo up the Col de la Croix de Fer. No other rider appeared able to respond sufficiently well, but Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) launched a serious attempt to catch the Dane. and a five-man group formed behind Vingegaard and Yates. The group featured Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen), Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates), and Max Poole (Team DSM).
With 3.5 kilometers left, Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ), Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost), Esteban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost), Louis Meintjes (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), Daniel Martinez (Ineos-Grenadiers), Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious), and Cofidis’ Guillaume Martin had joined the four-man chase group.
2.2 kilometers from the finish line, Vingegaard had a thirty-five second lead over Yates. Behind them, the chase group was minimized as a result of multiple attacks from riders such as O’Connor and Hindley.
Vingegaard entered the final kilometer in solo fashion and later crossed the finish line as winner of stage 7 of Criterium du Dauphine 2023. Yates was next across the finish line, while Hindley completed the stage 53 seconds after the winner. O’Connor finished fourth.
“I felt really good today and I wanted to go for the win. We decided to let Attila (Valter) and Tiesj (Benoot) go full gas on the final climb and luckily, I was able to go alone and I was lucky,” stage winner Vingegaard told Roadcycling.com shortly after the finish. “Tomorrow is another day, and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow and going into it I will be more defensive. It would be a big honor for me to win this race, because it is one of the most important cycling races in the world.
By winning today’s stage Vingegaard increased his general classification lead to 02:11 minutes. Yates is second, while O’Connor completes the preliminary GC podium.
Sunday’s stage 8 will be the final stage of this year’s Criterium du Dauphine Libere. It features three Category 2 climbs, one Category 1 climb, and one Hors Categorie climb on a 152.8-kilometer route from Le Pont-de-Claix to La Bastille / Grenoble Alpes Métropole. It will be the final chance for the general classification favorites and mountain goats to shine in this year’s race and the final test for many riders before the start of the Tour de France 2023 on July 1.
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