Critérium du Dauphiné: Froome wins stage 7 on climb to Le Bettex

Chris Froome (Team Sky) laid down a marker ahead of the Tour de France by soloing clear on the Montée du Bettex to win stage 7 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, while Tejay van Garderen (BMC) limited his losses sufficiently to move back into the overall lead with one day of racing to go.

Friday’s rain-soaked stage across rolling terrain had seen the general classification thrown on its head by the invention of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and Saturday’s penultimate leg threatened to be an equally chaotic affair, with a break of some 26 riders eventually forming after the second of the day’s six climbs.

Froome’s Sky teammates brought their own form of order to proceedings in the final 50 kilometres, however, as they took over the pace-making duties on the Col de la Forclaz, where they whittled the yellow jersey group down to fewer than 30 riders. Their efforts continued on the approach to the day’s penultimate climb, the short but exceedingly steep Côte des Amerands, and the forcing of Philip Deignan, Peter Kennaugh et al quickly paid out a dividend as the maillot jaune Nibali was jettisoned out the back.

Wout Poels took over on the final 7-kilometre haul to the finish, and his injection of urgency had the twin effect of bringing the survivors of the early break back into reach and placing more of the general classification contenders under pressure. Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) all had to yield to Sky’s brute strength and there was an air of inevitability about Froome’s attack with a shade under four kilometres to race.

Froome is not quite (or at least not yet) the man he was during his annus mirabilis of 2013, but the style remains unchanged from two years ago: the legs still spin as though divorced from the rest of his body, the elbows still jut outwards and the gaze remains fixed firmly on his powermeter. Only van Garderen could follow Froome’s vicious acceleration, and as the pair zoomed past early escapees Dani Navarro and Jonathan Castroviejo, it was clear that they would divide the spoils between them.

Van Garderen began the day with a buffer of 39 seconds over Froome, but rather than simply mark the Briton, he shared the pace-making duties in the knowledge that they were heaping more seconds upon the deficits of Nibali, Valverde and Rui Costa. But as the gradient stiffened with 1500 metres remaining, Froome drew level with van Garderen and then kicked his way clear, eventually winning the stage by 17 seconds.

"On the back of a day like yesterday, nearly 200km in the rain, a lot of the big contenders in the break yesterday, it made sense today to make it as hard as possible. That's one of the beauties of stage racing, you can't give everything on one day and expect to back it up the next day going into the queen stage,” Froome said of a day that saw him move up to second overall, just 18 seconds behind van Garderen.

Beñat Inxtausti now lies in third overall, 45 seconds back, after he took fourth on the stage, just behind a hugely impressive Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka), who had been on the attack earlier in the stage. Inxtausti was one of the last to yield to Froome’s forcing and he was given the green light to ride for himself rather than wait for Valverde, who lost over two minutes.

Rui Costa limited his losses to finish 10th on the stage, 1:34 down, but he falls to 4th overall, 1:10 back, ahead of Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), who recovered well after struggling midway through the stage. Nibali, meanwhile, rode at his own pace up the final climb and crossed the line four minutes down in the company of his teammate Michele Scarponi, handing his jersey back to van Garderen after just one day.

"We are thrilled to be back in yellow," van Garderen said. "The team were a little bit bummed out about yesterday but we bounced back today and everyone contributed really well, we had a really solid ride. Hopefully we can put up a good defence tomorrow."

Early attacks

The weather was mercifully more clement at the start in Montmélian than it had been on Friday, but there was nothing settled about the exchanges ahead of the day’s opening climb, the Col de Tamié, as Pierre Rolland (Europcar) led a determined pursuit of the early 13-man break. It took some time for the stage to settle into a discernible pattern, though come the third climb of the Col de la Croix Fry, the leading group had swollen to some 26 riders and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) had all but secured the king of the mountains title by leading over the first four climbs of the day.

The Eritrean repeated the feat on the Col des Aravis, where the leading group began to fragment once again thanks to Daniel Navarro’s aggression. Behind, meanwhile, Froome’s Sky teammates had set up their stall and the fine efforts of Philip Deignan in particular helped to pare the yellow jersey group down to fewer than 30 riders and leave Nibali with just two teammates for company.

Sky’s forcing continued thereafter and, one by one, the men who had so impressed on the road to Villard-de-Lans on Friday began to flounder. By the time they reached Sallanches ahead of the final, two-part haul to the line, there were six Sky riders in the front group compared to Astana’s trio, and Froome would go on to cap their numerical superiority by claiming stage honours.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Froome can now discommode the resilient van Garderen on the Dauphiné final stage, which includes the fearsome Lacets de Montvernier and a summit finish at Modane.

“Tejay’s ridden a really good race. BMC did a good team time trial, and I’ve got a bit of time to make up on Tejay still, so we’ll see. The race isn’t over until it’s over,” Froome said. “Today was a good demonstration of where I’m at. I’ve got a bit of work to do, I’m not at my best yet but I’m not far off it either, being able to ride a stage like that.”

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky4:24:17
2Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:00:17
3Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka0:00:41
4Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 3 - Cell 2
5Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha0:00:54
6Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:08
7Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:15
8Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:01:25
9Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida0:01:34
10Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:01:45
11Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge0:01:47
12Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-MeridaRow 11 - Cell 2
13Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:01:52
14David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 13 - Cell 2
15Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo0:01:55
16Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ.fr0:02:02
17Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:02:03
18Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar0:02:12
19Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff-Saxo0:02:30
20Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team0:02:36
21Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:02:49
22Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling0:03:01
23Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:03:58
24Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 23 - Cell 2
25Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 24 - Cell 2
26Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek Factory RacingRow 25 - Cell 2
27Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team0:05:08
28Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky0:05:20
29Stef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling0:05:48
30Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar0:06:38
31Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo0:06:59
32Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Bora-Argon 180:08:56
33Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34José Herrada (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
35Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 34 - Cell 2
36Cristiano Salerno (Ita) Bora-Argon 18Row 35 - Cell 2
37Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Lampre-MeridaRow 36 - Cell 2
38Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory RacingRow 37 - Cell 2
39Tiago Machado (Por) Team KatushaRow 38 - Cell 2
40Philip Deignan (Irl) Team SkyRow 39 - Cell 2
41Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team SkyRow 40 - Cell 2
42José Mendes (Por) Bora-Argon 180:09:24
43Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:10:19
44Eduard Beltran (Col) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 43 - Cell 2
45Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 44 - Cell 2
46Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana Pro Team0:11:14
47Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky0:11:18
48Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:11:49
49Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha0:13:00
50Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing0:13:23
51Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdgeRow 50 - Cell 2
52Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto SoudalRow 51 - Cell 2
53Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:14:48
54Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 53 - Cell 2
55Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team0:15:57
56Rory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar Team0:17:32
57Ian Boswell (USA) Team SkyRow 56 - Cell 2
58Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - QhubekaRow 57 - Cell 2
59Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEdge0:18:00
60Christian Meier (Can) Orica GreenEdge0:18:03
61Paul Voss (Ger) Bora-Argon 180:21:12
62Jan Barta (Cze) Bora-Argon 18Row 61 - Cell 2
63Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo0:21:55
64Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka0:22:52
65Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 64 - Cell 2
66Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - QhubekaRow 65 - Cell 2
67Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 66 - Cell 2
68Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 67 - Cell 2
69Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 68 - Cell 2
70Johan Van Summeren (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 69 - Cell 2
71Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La MondialeRow 70 - Cell 2
72Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 71 - Cell 2
73Jose Rodolfo Serpa (Col) Lampre-MeridaRow 72 - Cell 2
74Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 73 - Cell 2
75Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 74 - Cell 2
76Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica GreenEdgeRow 75 - Cell 2
77Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM CyclingRow 76 - Cell 2
78Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 77 - Cell 2
79Joseph Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 78 - Cell 2
80Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Ian Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 80 - Cell 2
82Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN - QhubekaRow 81 - Cell 2
83George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 82 - Cell 2
84John Gadret (Fra) Movistar TeamRow 83 - Cell 2
85Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:23:16
86Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha0:25:18
87Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:25:54
88Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek Factory RacingRow 87 - Cell 2
89Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 88 - Cell 2
90Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro TeamRow 89 - Cell 2
91Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory RacingRow 90 - Cell 2
92Bruno Pires (Por) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 91 - Cell 2
93Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek Factory RacingRow 92 - Cell 2
94Romain Guillemois (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 93 - Cell 2
95Damien Howson (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 94 - Cell 2
96Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 95 - Cell 2
97Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdgeRow 96 - Cell 2
98Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 97 - Cell 2
99Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro TeamRow 98 - Cell 2
100Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team0:26:47
101Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:26:49
102Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:26:51
103Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 102 - Cell 2
104Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team KatushaRow 103 - Cell 2
105Bryan Nauleau (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 104 - Cell 2
106Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 105 - Cell 2
107Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 106 - Cell 2
108Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
109Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 108 - Cell 2
110Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-MeridaRow 109 - Cell 2
111Chad Haga (USA) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 110 - Cell 2
112Nelson Oliveira (Por) Lampre-MeridaRow 111 - Cell 2
113Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - QhubekaRow 112 - Cell 2
114Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Team KatushaRow 113 - Cell 2
115Jack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 114 - Cell 2
116Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto SoudalRow 115 - Cell 2
117Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - QhubekaRow 116 - Cell 2
118Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 117 - Cell 2
119Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 118 - Cell 2
120Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 119 - Cell 2
121Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 120 - Cell 2
122Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ.frRow 121 - Cell 2
123Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 122 - Cell 2
124David Tanner (Aus) IAM CyclingRow 123 - Cell 2
125Angel Vicioso (Spa) Team KatushaRow 124 - Cell 2
126Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 125 - Cell 2
127Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 126 - Cell 2
128Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ.frRow 127 - Cell 2
129Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:30:30
130Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 129 - Cell 2
131Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 130 - Cell 2
132Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 131 - Cell 2
133Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - QhubekaRow 132 - Cell 2
134Martijn Keizer (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 133 - Cell 2
135Luke Rowe (GBr) Team SkyRow 134 - Cell 2
136Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 135 - Cell 2
137Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 136 - Cell 2
138Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ.frRow 137 - Cell 2
139Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ.frRow 138 - Cell 2
140Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team KatushaRow 139 - Cell 2
DNFFilippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-MeridaRow 140 - Cell 2
DNFMathias Frank (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 141 - Cell 2
DNFTim Wellens (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 142 - Cell 2
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 143 - Cell 2
DNFDominik Nerz (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 144 - Cell 2
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Point
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky15pts
2Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team12Row 1 - Cell 3
3Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka10Row 2 - Cell 3
4Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team8Row 3 - Cell 3
5Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale5Row 5 - Cell 3
7Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale4Row 6 - Cell 3
8Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team3Row 7 - Cell 3
9Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida2Row 8 - Cell 3
10Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits1Row 9 - Cell 3
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Mountain 1
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3