Live coverage of stage 7 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, 155 kilometres from Montmélian to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc.
146km remaining from 155km
As we pick up the action inside the opening 10 kilometres, a 14-man break has slipped up the road and has a lead of 1:10 over the peloton.
The escapees are Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin), Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-La Mondiale), Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Tiago Machado (Katusha), Pieter Serry (Etixx-Quick Step), Riccardo Zoidl (Trek), Chris Anker Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling), Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and Björn Thurau (Bora-Argon 18).
The highest-placed rider on general classification in this break is Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), who began the day 7:44 off Vincenzo Nibali in 22nd place, so there has been no immediate reaction from Astana.
The general classification picture was as follows ahead of today's penultimate stage:
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 22:34:17
2 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida 0:00:29
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:30
4 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:35
5 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:42
6 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:57
7 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:21
8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 0:01:29
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:30
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
140km remaining from 155km
After 15 kilometres of racing, the leaders hold an advantage of 1:50 over the peloton, though Tiago Machado (Katusha) has punctured and might struggle to get back on.
130km remaining from 155km
As the escapees approach the foot of the day's opening climb, the Col de Tamié (8.5km at 6.4%), they have a lead of 1:35 over a bunch that is being led by Astana, Lampre-Merida and Europcar.
There are no fewer than five category 1 climbs on the agenda today, as well as the category 3 haul over the Col des Aravis. With yesterday's dramatic stage in the rain to Villard-de-Lans weighing on many legs this morning, we can surely expect further frissons at the head of the overall standings on the road towards Saint-Gervais.
The climbing begins with the Col de Tamié (8.5km at 6.4%). followed by the Col de la Forclaz (8.1km at 7.8%), Col de la Croix Fry (11.3km at 7%), Col des Aravis (4.3km at 5.8%), Côte des Amerands (2.7km at 11.2%) and the final haul up the Montée du Bettex (7km at 7.7%).
127km remaining from 155km
As soon as the gradient on the Tamié begins to bite, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) goes on the offensive in a bid to bridge across to the leaders. Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka) comes with him.
123km remaining from 155km
Both Rolland and his teammate Perrig Quémeneur, who dropped out of the break to pace him, have been caught by the main peloton on the Tamié. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) has also been dropped from the break, leaving 12 riders out in front, 1:05 clear.
120km remaining from 155km
Not to be outdone, Rolland goes on the offensive once again, this time as part of a nine-man counterattacking group. They have a lead of 25 seconds over the yellow jersey peloton.
114km remaining from 155km
Rolland's group has swollen to 13 riders, and they crest the summit of the Col de Tamié a minute down on the leaders. The peloton, led by Astana, reaches the same point 1:40 behind.
Daniel Teklehaimanot, incidentally, led over the summit of the Tamié to buttress his advantage in the king of the mountains classification. He began the day with a sixteen-point lead over Nibali in the standings.
The chasing group is 1:30 behind the leaders it reaches the base of the descent off the Tamié. The 13-man group is made up of Bauke Mollema (Trek), Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), David De La Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep), Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff-Saxo), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Dani Navarro, Luis Maté (Cofidis), Marcel Wyss (IAM), Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Bartosz Huzarski, Dominic Nerz and José Mendes (Bora-Argon 18).
It's interesting to see Mollema on the offensive today. The Dutchman had a very promising start to live at Trek Factory Racing when he finished 2nd overall at Tirreno-Adriatico in March but he has been complaining of a back problem since crashing at the Tour of the Basque Country in April and he has been struggling here. Trek directeur sportif Alain Gallopin was deeply critical of his team's display on the road to Villard-de-Lans on Friday, though he absolved Mollema of blame.
90km remaining from 155km
The chasing group has broken up on the Col de la Forclaz, the second climb of the day, with Rolland, Navarro and Huzarski among those bridging up to the leaders. The peloton with the principal overall contenders is almost four minutes back.
At the top of the Forclaz, there were 18 riders in the leading group with an advantage of 4:15 over the main peloton, which contains Nibali, Rui Costa, Valverde, Froome and van Garderen.
Dani Navarro (Cofidis) is the best-placed rider on general classification in the break. The Spaniard began the day 5:44 off Nibali's maillot jaune.
85km remaining from 155km
A recap of the names in the break: Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Chris Anker Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling), Tiago Machado (Katusha), Björn Thurau (Bora-Argon 18), Pieter Serry (Etixx-QuickStep), Ricardo Zoidl (Trek Factory Racing), Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Bartoz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal).
83km remaining from 155km
The peloton remains 4:15 down on the leaders as they approach the village of Alex, some ten kilometres from the base of the day's third ascent, the category 1 Col de la Croix Fry (11.3km at 7%).
73km remaining from 155km
Teklehaimanot also led over the Forclaz to further extend his advantage in the king of the mountains competition. Approaching the foot of the Croix Fry, the Eritrean and his breakaway companions have a lead of four minutes over the peloton.
Some more riders from the chasing group have managed to battle their way back up to the leaders before they begin the ascent of the Croix Fry, and letour.fr reports that there are now 23 riders at the head of the race. David De La Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep) is among them and the Spaniard is now the virtual leader of the race, as he began the day 3:13 down on Nibali.
66km remaining from 155km
There are now 26 riders at the head of the race on the Col de la Croix Fry (11.3km at 7%): Jonathan Castroviejo, Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Chris Anker Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Pawel Poljanski, Chris Anker Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Marcel Wyss, Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling), Tiago Machado (Katusha), Björn Thurau, Bartoz Huzarski, Dominik Nerz (Bora-Argon 18), David De La Cruz, Pieter Serry (Etixx-QuickStep), Bauke Mollema, Ricardo Zoidl (Trek Factory Racing), Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), Nicolas Edet, Daniel Navarro, Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis), Louis Meintjes, Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal).
Team Sky have taken up the reins in the main peloton on the slopes of the Croix Fry, and their forcing has pegged the leaders' advantage back to 2:50.
62km remaining from 155km
The break's lead is being steadily clipped back thanks to Sky's injection of impetus. The gap now stands at 2:10 on the upper slopes of the Croix Fry.
Sky's forcing has whittled the peloton down to fewer than 50 riders, and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) is among those struggling off the back. The Briton is currently fourth overall, just 35 seconds off the lead, following a fine display on yesterday's stage.
57km remaining from 155km
The escapees' lead is down to just 1:15 as they crest the summit of the Croix Fry. Eight of their number were dislodged on the final ramps towards the top, including Mollema, Mate and Plaza.
After a short drop, the race swings across to the Col des Aravis, for a 4.3km ascent to the category 3 summit, the fourth of the day's six climbs.
Not surpisingly, Teklehaimanot led over the top of the Croix Fry, a minute ahead of the yellow jersey group. Simon Yates, meanwhile, is currently 45 seconds behind Nibali, Rui Costa, Froome et al.
55km remaining from 155km
Dani Navarro (Cofidis) attacks alone from the leading group on the Col des Aravis, mindful that the Sky-led yellow jersey group is edging ineluctably closer. The gap is currently at one minute.
The yellow jersey group is down to just 20 riders or so on the Aravis, and there are still two more climbs and 50 kilometres before the finish...
Simon Yates has made contact once again with the yellow jersey group on the Aravis. They are 56 seconds down on the leaders.
Navarro was pegged back just before the summit of the Aravis, where - you might have guessed - Teklehaimanot claimed maximum king of the mountains points. The race now undertakes the long descent by instalments to Vervex, before the final, two-part climb to the finish at Saint-Gervais. First up is the short (2.7km) but very steep (11.2%) Côte des Amerands, followed almost immediately afterwards by the Montée du Bettex (7km at 7.7%).
43km remaining from 155km
The break's lead has stretched back out to 1:25 on the long drop off the Aravis. Philip Deignan (Sky) sets the tempo on the front. Like at the Vuelta a España last year, the Donegal man has been perhaps Froome's most reliable lieutenant this week, yet he does not seem to be in the running for Sky's Tour de France team. You can read more on Dave Brailsford's likely selection here.
Sky have a distinct numerical advantage over Astana in this yellow jersey group, and Froome has no fewer than four teammates sitting in front of him.
38km remaining from 155km
In the front group, Dani Navarro all but pushes his teammate Nicolas Edet into launching an attack. When Edet is brought back, Navarro tries to get away with Rolland.
37km remaining from 155km
Navarro goes away alone once again as the road kicks up once again. Louis Meintjes tries to lead a chase but there is precious little collaboration in this group.
The pace has slackened slightly in the yellow jersey group, and the gap is out to 1:50.
As the road flattens out, Ricardo Zoidl (Trek) succeeds in bridging across to Navarro. The pair of them have a lead of 1:54 over the Nibali-Froome-van Garderen group.
32km remaining from 155km
Zoidl and Navarro have struck up a decent working alliance, and they have built up a lead of 2:28 over the yellow jersey group.
Nibali has just two teammates for company in this group, while Froome has no fewer than five Sky riders around him at the front. One startling performance at the Ruta del Sol apart, this season Froome hasn't reached the same levels as 2013, when he conjured up mountaintop wins seemingly at will.
28km remaining from 155km
Zoidl and Navarro have a lead of 40 seconds over their erstwhile breakaway companions and they are now some three minutes clear of the group of overall contenders.
The chasing group is beginning to fragment, and Teklehaimanot is among those to sit up. The Eritrean is swept up by the Sky-led peloton, having all but sealed victory in the king of the mountains classification.
22km remaining from 155km
Ian Boswell has done a solid stint on the front for Sky. He almost overshoots a corner on the descent but quickly corrects himself and resumes his pace-making duties.
17km remaining from 155km
Zoidl and Navarro have worked well together but their collaboration will surely grind to a halt once they hit the slopes of the Côte des Amerands, which averages 11.2% over its 2.7 kilometres.
15km remaining from 155km
Jonathan Castroviejo and Bartoz Huzarski have clipped off the front of the chasing group and lie 30 seconds down on Navarro and Zoidl.
14km remaining from 155km
Dan Martin and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) moves up in the yellow jersey group as they approach the base of the penultimate climb.
12km remaining from 155km
Navarro and Zoidl begin the climb of the Côte des Amerands with a lead of 2:51 over the Sky-led group of favourites.
Pierre Rolland is in the third group on the road with Alexis Vuillermoz, 1:06 down on Zoidl and Navarro.
Deignan takes over from Boswell at the front as the yellow jersey group hits the base of the Côte des Amerands.
11km remaining from 155km
Zoidl and Navarro are still sharing the load as they grind their way up the Côte des Amerands, 2:20 ahead of the yellow jersey group.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is dropped by the Sky-led group as the gradient bites. He is still within touching distance of the rear of the group but he needs to limit the damage on the final, stiff kilometre of this climb.
10km remaining from 155km
Peter Kennaugh injects pace into the group of favourites in a bid to place Nibali into further difficulty.
Scarponi and Rein Taaramae have to slow and wait for Nibali, who is struggling but seemingly determined not to extend himself beyond a certain degree of effort come what may. The Sicilian is beginning to lose more significant ground to the Sky-led group now.
10km remaining from 155km
Zoidl and Navarro are still together as they approach the summit, and they have a lead of 2:17 over the flagging Nibali. What we're not certain of just yet is the gap between Nibali and the Froome group.
9km remaining from 155km
Castroviejo and Huzarski catch Zoidl and Navarro at the top of the descent of the Côte des Amerands. We have a four-man group at the head of the race, 1:39 up on the Froome group and 2:18 up on Nibali's group.
The situation after the Côte des Amerands. Up front, a four-man group featuring Ricardo Zoidl (Trek), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18) and Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar). Alexis Vuillermoz leads a small band of chasers. 1:40 down, Pete Kennaugh leads an increasingly select group of favourites that includes Froome, Valverde, Van Garderen, Talansky, Martin and Rui Costa - but not Nibali, who is 2:20 behind in the company of Scarponi and Taaramae.
The last of the day's six climbs awaits, the 7km haul up the Montée du Bettex to the finish at Saint-Gervais in the shadow of Mont Blanc.
7km remaining from 155km
Kennaugh pulls over at the base of the Montée du Bettex, where the Froome group trails the leaders by 1:06.
Castroviejo attacks at the foot of the climb bringing Navarro and Huzarski with him. Riccardo Zoidl has been dropped.
6km remaining from 155km
More riders are beginning to struggle under the weight of Wout Poels' forcing in the Froome group. Rui Costa, Talansky and Simon Yates are among those dropped.
Castroviejo attacks again in the lead group, and this time only Navarro can follow him.
Valverde is the next rider to be dropped from the Froome group, which is down to just seven riders, including van Garderen and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). They are a minute clear of Nibali with less than 5km to go.
4km remaining from 155km
Wout Poels leads Froome, then van Garderen, Rodriguez, Bardet and Inxtausti. This elite group has picked off some of the survivors from the early break, including Rolland.
3km remaining from 155km
Navarro and Castroviejo have just 22 seconds in hand and the Spanish tandem must sense the game is up.
3km remaining from 155km
Chris Froome accelerates and only van Garderen can follow his attack. They pick their way through the stragglers from the early group and then catch Navarro and Castroviejo within 200 metres.
3km remaining from 155km
Van Garderen takes over in front with Froome on his wheel. The remnants of the break and of the former yellow jersey group are scattered across the mountainside behind them.
3km remaining from 155km
Froome and van Garderen lead into the final 3 kilometres. The American could be in the process of riding back into the overall lead as Nibali, Valverde and Rui Costa have all been distanced earlier on the climb.
2km remaining from 155km
Benat Inxtausti (Movistar) has been given the green light to ride for himself rather than Valverde. He's third on the road in the company of Meintjes, but they're steadily losing ground to Froome and van Garderen.
Van Garderen and Froome are colloborating smoothly together as they head towards the final two kilometres. The road stiffens once more on the final haul to the line.
2km remaining from 155km
Bardet is limiting his losses in the third group with his impressive teammate Vuillermoz.
1km remaining from 155km
Froome draws level with van Garderen and then climbs out of the saddle and accelerates clear alone.
Van Garderen was in the process of riding into the yellow jersey, but if Froome makes up 40 seconds on the American, then he will take the overall lead in his stead.
1km remaining from 155km
Shades of Mont Ventoux in Froome's rapid cadence. He is ten seconds clear of van Garderen, his eyes fixed on his powe meter.
1km remaining from 155km
Van Garderen is limiting the damage well as he enters the final kilometre, just about keeping Froome in sight.
Froome's style isn't easy on the eye as his shoulders bob from side to side and he rides at a cadence that makes it seems as if he is riding in fast forward. But it is winning him the stage.
Chris Froome (Sky) wins stage 7 of the Criterium du Dauphine.
Van Garderen takes second at 19 seconds and he will surely move into the overall lead tonight.
Meintjes takes third ahead of Inxtausti at around 40 seconds.
The rest of the general classification contenders are edging to the summit in ones and twos, having wilted under the ferocity of Sky's forcing on the final two climbs. Bardet comes home in sixth at 1:06, behind Rodriguez. Talansky loses 1:21. Rui Costa concedes 1:33 and Valverde 2:01.
Nibali crosses the line almost four minutes down in the company of his teammate Michele Scarponi. The Sicilian insisted yesterday that he still had work to do ahead of the Tour de France, and he wasn't wrong. He'll draw consolation from the fact that this day three years ago he lost almost ten minutes in Morzine but recovered to finish 3rd in the Tour the following month.
In the revised overall standings, Tejay van Garderen (BMC) holds a lead of 18 seconds over Chris Froome. Benat Intxausti is third at 45 seconds. Rui Costa is next, 1:10 down, while Simon Yates recovered well from his early travails today and he lies in 5th overall, 1:29 off van Garderen.
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 4:24:17
2 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:17
3 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka 0:00:41
4 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:54
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:08
7 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale 0:01:15
8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:25
9 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida 0:01:34
10 Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:45
1 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 26:59:27
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:18
3 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:45
4 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida 0:01:10
5 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge 0:01:29
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:39
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:45
8 Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:29
9 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:39
10 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:02:46
Thanks for joining our live coverage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. We'll back with more tomorrow and in the meantime you'll be able to find a full report, results and pictures from today's stage here.
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