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Sørensen catches greatest career win

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Chris Anker Sørensen was catching his first pro win

Chris Anker Sørensen was catching his first pro win
(Image credit: AFP)
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Evans tried to drop Valverde, but it only worked temporarily

Evans tried to drop Valverde, but it only worked temporarily
(Image credit: AFP)
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Snow still lingers near the top of the 2067-metre high Croix de Fer

Snow still lingers near the top of the 2067-metre high Croix de Fer
(Image credit: AFP)
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Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) keeps an eye on race leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) keeps an eye on race leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Caisse d'Epargne looked after their leader all the way to the final climb.

Caisse d'Epargne looked after their leader all the way to the final climb.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Threatening clouds loomed for much of the stage, but conditions remained dry.

Threatening clouds loomed for much of the stage, but conditions remained dry.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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The peloton climbs the Col de la Croix de Fer.

The peloton climbs the Col de la Croix de Fer.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Valverde adds another layer on the chilly ascent.

Valverde adds another layer on the chilly ascent.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Snow still lingers near the top of 2067 metre high pass.

Snow still lingers near the top of 2067 metre high pass.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Caisse d'Epargne and Silence-Lotto drive the pace on the descent of the Croix de Fer.

Caisse d'Epargne and Silence-Lotto drive the pace on the descent of the Croix de Fer.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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The big guns of the Dauphiné - Levi Leipheimer (Astana), Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

The big guns of the Dauphiné - Levi Leipheimer (Astana), Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Evans goes for it on La Toussuire.

Evans goes for it on La Toussuire.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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The Aussie distanced Valverde for short while, but was eventually reeled in.

The Aussie distanced Valverde for short while, but was eventually reeled in.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Evans was out of the saddle for long periods on the final climb.

Evans was out of the saddle for long periods on the final climb.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC) rides alone on the final climb to La Toussuire.

Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC) rides alone on the final climb to La Toussuire.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC) claims Stage 6 of the Dauphiné Libéré.

Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC) claims Stage 6 of the Dauphiné Libéré.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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The Danish rider tackled the final climb to La Toussuire alone and won by over a minute.

The Danish rider tackled the final climb to La Toussuire alone and won by over a minute.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Leipheimer sprints home ahead of Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre), Valverde and Evans.

Leipheimer sprints home ahead of Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre), Valverde and Evans.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Stage winner Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC) is congratulated by team-mate Nicki Sørensen.

Stage winner Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC) is congratulated by team-mate Nicki Sørensen.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Thumbs up from the stage winner.

Thumbs up from the stage winner.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Valverde gets another yellow jersey.

Valverde gets another yellow jersey.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Alejandro Valverde looks set to wrap up overall victory tomorrow.

Alejandro Valverde looks set to wrap up overall victory tomorrow.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Umm... Alejandro... you're supposed to kiss on the cheek.

Umm... Alejandro... you're supposed to kiss on the cheek.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Stage five winner Yuriy Trofimov (L) with Bouygues Telecom team-mate Perrig Quéméneur.

Stage five winner Yuriy Trofimov (L) with Bouygues Telecom team-mate Perrig Quéméneur.
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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Alejandro Valverde arrives for the sign-on in Morzine.

Alejandro Valverde arrives for the sign-on in Morzine.
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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Levi Leiphimer wears the green jersey. The American is second in the points classification behind Valverde.

Levi Leiphimer wears the green jersey. The American is second in the points classification behind Valverde.
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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Chris Anker Sørensen savours his first big victory in La Toussuire.

Chris Anker Sørensen savours his first big victory in La Toussuire.
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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The Dane was not interested in comparisons to his compatriot Michael Rasmussen, the last man to win at La Toussuire during the 2007 Tour de France.

The Dane was not interested in comparisons to his compatriot Michael Rasmussen, the last man to win at La Toussuire during the 2007 Tour de France.
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
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Sørensen is likely to get addicted to more procedures like this.

Sørensen is likely to get addicted to more procedures like this.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Evans shadowed Valverde most of the day

Evans shadowed Valverde most of the day
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Sastre was up front on the Col de Croix Fer and dressed well for the four degrees centigrade. He dropped back on the final climb.

Sastre was up front on the Col de Croix Fer and dressed well for the four degrees centigrade. He dropped back on the final climb.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Yaroslav Popovych (Silence-Lotto) was a valuable helper for Evans today.

Yaroslav Popovych (Silence-Lotto) was a valuable helper for Evans today.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Valverde puts on yellow and hopes it won't be the last time in this tour.

Valverde puts on yellow and hopes it won't be the last time in this tour.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Evans went on the attack with half a dozen kilometres to go.

Evans went on the attack with half a dozen kilometres to go.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Evans looked strong but the headwind prevented him from getting more than 20 seconds.

Evans looked strong but the headwind prevented him from getting more than 20 seconds.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Evans labouring hard in the final kilometres.

Evans labouring hard in the final kilometres.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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It was picturesque racing in the French Alps.

It was picturesque racing in the French Alps.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The snow was proof that it was still cold up on the cols.

The snow was proof that it was still cold up on the cols.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Leipheimer grits his teeth to get a few more seconds out of his competitors.

Leipheimer grits his teeth to get a few more seconds out of his competitors.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Evans and Leipheimer ahead but the others clawed their way back into the race.

Evans and Leipheimer ahead but the others clawed their way back into the race.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mikel Astarloza feels at home in the mountains.

Mikel Astarloza feels at home in the mountains.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Michael Rogers is showing that his form is coming along.

Michael Rogers is showing that his form is coming along.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Valverde resists attack of Evans and Leipheimer

With astonishing resilience to the chasing group of favourites, Dane Chris Anker Sørensen of CSC took his greatest career win, his first as a professional, to date. He was part of the day's break, then continued solo from the start of the final climb up to La Toussuire and prevailed by over a minute. In the fight for GC, Alejandro Valverde countered moves by Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer and added two seconds to his overall margin of now 39 seconds.

The up and coming Danish climber Sørensen ruled out any comparison with his compatriot Michael Rasmussen after his magnificent solo victory in La Toussuire, where Rasmussen won a stage of the Tour de France two years ago. "I definitely don't want to be the new Rasmussen, let's forget about Rasmussen! But I hope to become the new Danish climber. My first pro win couldn't be a greater one than the queen stage of the Dauphiné, which is a great race, with the col de la Croix-de-Fer, which is one of France's most beautiful climbs. I used to watch the Tour de France pass through it when I was a kid. It's a dream come true for me to win here."

The 23 year-old, who finished the Giro in 27th place before riding the Dauphiné, crossed the line with the gesture of a fisherman, throwing his fishing rod out and raking in his catch of the day. He explained it as a private joke with some friends back in Denmark following the way Paolo Bettini won the World Championship in the role of the hunter.

Sørensen was the only rider left of the breakaway that took shape after 50 kilometres. The highest ranked of the 21-man group was young Frenchman Pierre Rolland, who became the king of the mountains, but was victim of a hunger knock up to La Toussuire where he actually lost even more time than Landis two years ago at the Tour: almost 16 minutes.

"I've never put my body in such a state of fatigue," Rolland said. "But I'm happy to get the polka dot jersey, this is the jersey of my childhood dreams. I took risks today. With a 4'20 advantage that we got at some stage, I was virtually in second position overall. In this stage I've made mistakes that I will not reproduce in the future."

He can look to Valverde for not making mistakes in cycling. The Spaniard didn't panic when Evans attacked with 5.5 kilometres to go. "Instead of responding to him, I preferred to stay behind Gesink, who was keeping a steady but high speed. We had a head wind, I chose to climb progressively. I was very well but the stage was 233 kilometres; that's a distance we have only covered in the classics. As long as we kept Evans at a distance [so] I could see [him] with my eyes, I didn't worry."

The Australian made the race extremely spectacular with his attack. "I'm climbing well," he said after the finish. "But not good enough for the win. Today, I had nothing to lose. Maybe I had a chance to win the overall, sometimes you have to take these chances. I wanted to leave Valverde by himself in the wind." It didn't happen since the race leader got help from a few other riders, mostly Gesink who was targeting the stage win.

That was also the intention of Levi Leipheimer who rejoined Evans but didn't cooperate much with him. The American was still disappointed that the Australian took the second place on GC from him the day before. "I wish I had the same legs yesterday," Leipheimer explained. "La Toussuire wasn't hard enough to make a difference. It was not up to me to work for Evans. I was waiting for Valverde to do some work and I jumped across as he didn't. With two kilometres to go, I realised we were too far from Sørensen for being in contention for the stage win.

"Tomorrow is a hard stage," Leipheimer continued. "Valverde looks strong and he's a smart rider." The Spaniard doesn't want to consider the Dauphiné won before he crosses the line in Grenoble on Sunday. "I will possibly face more attacks," he said. "But it's much shorter and my team works well, so we should save the jersey."

Shall he finish second once again like last year behind Christophe Moreau, Evans will leave the Dauphiné with no regret. "I'm here only to compare myself to the others," he emphasised. "My only goal at the Dauphiné was to get better and I'm getting better. I don't want to be getting too good too soon."

The Valverde-Evans duel might be reproduced next month at the Tour de France with a different scenario.

How it unfolded

A group of 20 riders went away in the côte de Megève (km 48): Mario Aerts (Silence-Lotto), José Luis Rubiera (Astana), David Lopez (Caisse d'Epargne), Juan José Oroz (Euskaltel), Patrice Halgand and Pierre Rolland (Crédit Agricole), Jurgen Van de Walle and Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), Vladimir Efimkin and Stéphane Goubert (Ag2r), Juan Antonio Flecha and Peter Weening (Rabobank), David Moncoutié and Amaël Moinard (Cofidis), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Jérôme Coppel and Rémi Di Gregorio (Française des Jeux), Thomas Voeckler and Stef Clement (Bouygues Telecom), Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) and Chris Anker Sørensen (CSC).

Rolland was first at the top ahead of Clement, Van de Walle, Coppel and Moncoutié. Rolland was also first at the top of the côte d'Héry-sur-Ugine (km 72), where the escapees had an advantage of 3'15. At km 119, the group split up and 13 riders went to the front. With 10 kilometres to go to the top of the col de la Croix-de-Fer, there were still 12 together: Rubiera, Lopez, Halgand, Rolland, Van de Walle, Flecha, Moncoutié, Moinard, Di Gregorio, Efimkin, Goubert and Sørensen. Rolland again was first at the top (km 180.5).

At kilometre 191, the two Euskaltel riders Mikel Astarloza and Oroz rejoined the front group while the first part of the bunch was located two minutes behind. At kilometre 213, as the gap was reduced to 55 seconds under the action of the Rabobank riders, Sørensen went solo on the way up to La Toussuire.

With nine kilometres to go, the Dane was 1'30 ahead of Di Gregorio, Astarloza and Lopez. The bunch was at 1'50.

With 5. kilometres to go, Evans attacked and created a gap to the Valverde group. The Spaniard stayed in the wheel of Robert Gesink (Rabobank). Three kilometres further, it was the turn of Levi Leipheimer (Astana) to attack. The American rejoined Evans but their advantage was no more than 25 seconds. Valverde caught them under the flamme rouge.

Sørensen kept a one-minute advantage over Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom), who came in second, while Valverde kept his overall lead over Evans and Leipheimer.

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