Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) survived a scare on stage 6 of the Critérium du Dauphiné when he crashed on the descent of the Saint-Georges-d'Hurtières. The 2017 race winner was quickly able to remount and eventually finished sixth in Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne to protect his fourth place overall ahead of the key mountain stage.
"I was at low speed," Fuglsang said after the stage. "I think someone wanted to go left and I wanted to go right. I lost balance on his rear wheel. I almost saved it but I also ended up taking down a Mitchelton guy also. For me, it's nothing serious and I hope it's the same for the Mitchelton guy as well. I got back up and used the same bike. It was nothing special."
The Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner arrived at the finish with his shorts ripped on the right side and visible wounds both there and on his elbow. He was quickly ushered onto the Astana team bus for examination but later stressed that the cuts were superficial and would not affect him over the final two days of the race.
"I have maybe a deeper wound on the elbow that needs to be cleaned. I have lost some skin on the hip and ankle, but it's minor scratches. I don't expect it to be a factor. It's going to be two hard days, and I'm looking forward to testing the legs. Today was kind of a boring day so everyone must have been saving themselves. We'll see."
The stage was decided by a two-rider sprint between Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Gregor Muhlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) after the bunch had allowed the pair and Alessandro de Marchi (CCC Team) to establish a sizeable lead. The Italian was distanced on the final climb, but Alaphilippe was pushed all the way to the line before narrowly overhauling Muhlberger.
Fuglsang finished towards the front of the main group at 6:10 and is seven seconds off Adam Yates' yellow jersey as the race heads into the mountains proper on stage 7. There were no fireworks from the yellow jersey contenders today, with the race favourites all saving their powder for the upcoming tests.
"It was super windy in the last part of the race," Fuglsang said. "Obviously with the stage victory gone, that calmed things down and Ineos took complete control at the beginning of the climb and went their speed. No one felt like trying anything. It was a fast climb. Two riders tried but they were taken back quite easily."
Astana's directeur sportif Dmitriy Fofonov brushed off Fuglsang's crash as just a small race incident as he stood outside the team bus.
"Nothing happened," he told Cyclingnews. "He crashed but it's just a small one. That happens in the bunch when one rider touches another. It was In the middle of the stage, but it wasn't at a strategic point in the race. One guy from Mitchelton crashed and then Jakob crashed with him. He has one wound on his right hip and one on the elbow.
"Tomorrow is the first mountain stage," Fofonov said. "All the favourites are there, and we'll see tomorrow where we are in GC. At the moment, we’re in a good position and today the guys managed the last climb really well. We saw Ineos on the last climb, but then on the descent there were no risks."