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Critérium du Dauphiné 2015: Stage 8

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Live coverage of the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, 156.5 kilometres from Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc to Modane Valfréjus.

Twelve months ago, a dramatic final day of racing at the Critérium du Dauphiné saw the general classification radically redrawn as Andrew Talansky upset the odds to snatch overall victory away from Alberto Contador and a flagging Chris Froome. This time around another young American, Tejay van Garderen, will hope for a rather calmer day as he looks to maintain his overall lead and claim the biggest victory of his career to date.

Van Garderen begins the final stage 18 seconds clear of Froome and 45 ahead of Benat Intxausti after regaining the yellow and blue jersey at Saint-Gervais on Saturday afternoon. The BMC man was the only rider capable of matching Froome when he attacked 3.5 kilometres from the summit, and though he too had to yield in the final 1500 metres, he limited his losses sufficiently to move back into the overall lead.

The general classification picture is as follows as stage 8 gets underway:

 

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 0:01:40
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

 

Like yesterday, there are six categorised climbs on the menu on this final stage. First up is the category 2 Côte d'Héry-sur-Ugine after 25.5 kilometres, then the category 4 Côte d’Aiton (65.5km) and the category 3 Côte de Saint-Georges-d’Hurtières (76km).

Much of the intrigue today will be provided by the fourth climb, the short but steep Lacets de Montvernier, which will make its Tour de France debut next month on stage 18. Just 3.4 kilometres in length, the category 1 ascent averages 8.2% and boasts no fewer than seventeen hairpin bends in that time. After crossing the summit with a little under 50 kilometres to go this afternoon, the peloton must then tackle the category 3 Côte de Saint-André ahead of the summit finish at Modane Valfréjus, an 8.4km climb at an average gradient of 5.7%.

150km remaining from 156km

The attacking began as soon as the flag was dropped and a little over six kilometres in, a group led by Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) has a lead of 15 seconds over the peloton. The Dutchman has been joined by Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Bruno Pires (Tinkoff-Saxo), Perrig Quémeneur, Romain Sicard (Europcar), Albert Timmer (Giant-Shimano) and Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka).

Luke Rowe (Sky) is non-starter today. The Welshman tweeted that he was suffering from illness yesterday and has not recovered sufficiently to race today.

It’s not the only non-appearance from a Sky rider this weekend. Chris Froome skipped the post-stage press conference after winning at Saint-Gervais yesterday and was fined 200 Swiss Francs and stripped of the stage winner’s prize of €4,000. A report from the BBC cited a Team Sky source and said that “Froome was told he did not have to attend the conference, having spoken to the media soon after crossing the line.” Given that Sky have held the yellow jersey at the Dauphiné for 24 days out of a possible 39 over the past five editions, however, they can’t seriously plead that they were unaware of the expected post-stage protocol.

140km remaining from 156km

The Kelderman group has built up a lead of 35 seconds over the peloton, while Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) is attempting to bridge across in a three-man chasing group.

Kelderman was disappointed to concede over 22 minutes yesterday, blaming his travails on a crash earlier in the week. “Despite the fact I kept feeling better every day this week, my left leg felt quite strained. I still had that feeling this morning. I’m fed up with that,” he said after yesterday’s stage. “Maybe I will feel better tomorrow. If so, I will attack.” So far, the Dutch youngster has been as good as his word.

135km remaining from 156km

Tony Martin has bridged across alone to the Kelderman group. There are now eight riders at the head of the race with a lead of one minute over the peloton.

The leading group has swollen to ten riders on the slopes of the Côte d'Héry-sur-Ugine as Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar) bridge across. There are no fewer than three Europcar riders in the break – spot the team still in search of a title sponsor for 2016.

129km remaining from 156km

Perrig Quemeneur leads the break over the top of the day's first climb with a lead of one minute on the peloton. A reminder of the names in this front group: Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Bruno Pires (Tinkoff-Saxo), Perrig Quémeneur, Romain Sicard, Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Albert Timmer (Giant-Shimano), Gatis Smukulis (Katusha), Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka).

The leading group has grown to 13 over the top of the climb, as Lars Boom (Astana), Julien Simon (Cofidis) and Bart De Clerq (Lotto Soudal) join their ranks, and they lead the peloton by 3:20.

122km remaining from 156km

A six-man chasing group featuring Andriy Grivko (Astana), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Cristiano Salero (Bora-Argon 18), Mikael Cherel and Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has also formed, though they are some 2:45 down on the leaders for now.

115km remaining from 156km

Team Sky lead the peloton after the drop off the Côte d'Héry-sur-Ugine. The next hour or so through the valley is punctuated by the category 4 Côte d'Aiton and the category 3 Côte de Saint-Georges-d'Hurtières.

The Grivko-Vuillermoz chase group has relented and been swallowed up by the peloton. The 13 leaders, meanwhile, continue to find common cause, and their lead stands at 2:55. Bart De Clerq is the best-placed of their number on general classification, 5:55 down on van Garderen.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was dropped by the Sky-led peloton on the penultimate climb yesterday and lost his yellow jersey but the Sicilian was typically tranquillo about his day when he spoke to Gazzetta dello Sport afterwards. Nibali began today’s stage in 11th overall, 3:05 down on Van Garderen.

“It’s never pleasing to come in four minutes down and lose the yellow jersey but honestly I wasn’t at the same level as the best riders and I was feeling the effects of Friday’s stage, so I preferred to climb at my own pace,” Nibali told Gazzetta. “Thinking back about it, I’m sorry not to have won when I had the chance [on Friday] but Rui Costa deserved it. I’ll keep on my path towards the Tour. I think I’m more or less at the same level as I was at the same point last year even if, to be honest, it’s easy to make comparisons.”
 

97km remaining from 156km

On Friday, the relative weakness of the van Garderen's BMC squad in the mountains helped to prepare the terrain for Nibali, Rui Costa and Alejandro Valverde's dangerous move to succeed, and it's not surprising to see Sky assume command at the head of the peloton today. With a shade under 100 kilometres to go, their pace-making has reduced the break's lead to 2:15.

85km remaining from 156km

Stephen Cummings led the break over the category 4 Côte d'Aiton. The 13 are now on the following Côte de Saint-Georges-d'Hurtières, still with a lead of 2:15 on the bunch.

 

Overall victory today would mark the biggest win of Tejay van Garderen’s career, which, one misstep at the 2013 Tour de France aside, has followed a steady progression to this point. Two fine showings at the Tour de l’Avenir highlighted his potential as an amateur, but it was a remarkable third place at the Dauphiné as a neo-professional in 2010 that confirmed his ability at this level. “I’m able to go deep when I feel the pain,” the 21-year-old van Garderen said on that occasion.

75km remaining from 156km

Tony Martin has attacked alone from the leading group on the descent of the Côte de Saint-Georges-d'Hurtières. It's an ambitious move from the German, who still has 75 kilometres and three climbs ahead of him.

68km remaining from 156km

Martin has opened a decent lead over his erstwhile breakaway companions, while the peloton is now more than three minutes back.

Martin is powering towards the foot of the spectacular Lacets de Montvernier. Though unfortunately, if he and the peloton continue at this pace, they’ll reach the climb before live television pictures begin.

60km remaining from 156km

Martin has built up a lead of 50 seconds over the rest of the break, while the bunch is now at four minutes.

55km remaining from 156km

Martin is just a few kilometres from the base of the Lacets de Montvernier. Just 3.4 kilometres in length, the category two climb has average gradient of 8.2% on a road that is slung across the mountainside like spaghetti - there are some 17 hairpin bends in a shade under two miles.

Cyclingnews stumbled across an even more twisting ascent while searching for an agriturismo. during the recent Giro d'Italia. The climb of Monterosso outside Verbania features 48 bends in a little over five kilometres, though mercifully the road is so narrow that not even Angelo Zomegnan himself could have considered inserting it into the route...

Martin attacks the Lacets de Montvernier alone at the head of the race, beginning the climb with a lead of four minutes over the peloton.

Cannondale-Garmin have joined Team Sky at the head of the bunch on the approach to the climb, which will feature much nearer the finish when it makes its Tour de France debut next month. It follows the Col du Glandon on stage 18, and the summit will be just 10 kilometres from the finish in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

48km remaining from 156km

Tony Martin leads over the top of the Lacets de Montvernier with a lead of 3:45 over the peloton. France Televisions begins transmitting live pictures... just after the race had crossed the summit. Why obsess over bumpy on-board footage when such basic aspects of televising an important bike race are routinely ignored?

45km remaining from 156km

Peter Kennaugh took over for Team Sky on the Lacets de Montvernier and led the peloton over the top. The yellow jersey of Tejay van Garderen was well placed throughout, always within sight of Froome.

44km remaining from 156km

The Lacets de Montvernier broke up the chasing group somewhat. Albert Timmer and Gatis Smukulis are among those to have been dropped and picked up by the peloton.

Tony Martin shows no sign of relenting as he powers out front in a mammoth gear, his arms resting on the tops of the bars like Michele Bartoli, as though clutching an invisible set of Spinaci. The chasers are now 1:35 behind, and the bunch is at 3:43.

Sky's pace-making at the front of the peloton has stretched things out subtantially and quite a few riders risk losing contact even before the next climb, the category 3 Côte de Saint-André.

37km remaining from 156km

Martin is 20 kilometres from the base of the Côte de Saint-André (3km at 7%), which is really the first instalment of a two-part climb to the finish. After a short descent and false flat, the stage concludes with an 8.4km climb to the finish at Modane, with an average gradient of 5.7%.

36km remaining from 156km

Philip Deignan leads the peloton for Team Sky, while van Garderen sits on the wheel of Manuel Quinziato a little further back. Quinziato was a faller in the feed zone and his jersey and shorts have been ripped to shreds, but he remounted to put in a shift on behalf of his leader in the finale.

34km remaining from 156km

Martin is on the very long and rather false flat that drag inexorably upwards towards the two final climbs. He is still 3:40 clear of the peloton. His erstwhile breakaway partners are trying to marshal a chase but they are struggling to make any inroads into his advantage.

33km remaining from 156km

The nine survivors in the chase group have brought a degree of organisation to their efforts and they have closed the gap slightly. They now trail Martin by 1:20.

27km remaining from 156km

Kennaugh and Deignan's efforts at the front of the bunch have reduced Martin's advantage to 2:50. Van Garderen, Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Benat Intxausti (Movistar) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) are placed towards the front behind the Sky train.

25km remaining from 156km

Martin's expression is beginning to betray some signs of suffering as the road continues to rise gently. He is just a minute clear of the chasers and 2:25 ahead of the Philip Deignan-led peloton.

24km remaining from 156km

Boom, Kelderman and company have closed to within 52 seconds of Martin, but the bunch is also drawing ever closer. At this rate, the 10-second time bonus for the stage winner will be in play in van Garderen and Froome's battle for final overall victory.

20km remaining from 156km

Deignan and Kennaugh's pressing has pegged Martin's lead back to 1:25. A delegation from Ag2r-La Mondiale, meanwhile, looks to move Bardet into position ahead of the penultimate climb.

19km remaining from 156km

Ag2r-La Mondiale have taken over at the front of the peloton. Bardet is in 7th overall, 1:45 down on van Garderen. Cannondale-Garmin are also looking to position Talansky and Dan Martin ahead of the climb.

18km remaining from 156km

Nathan Haas hits the front of the bunch for Cannondale-Garmin. The injection of urgency has closed Tony Martin's advantage to 54 seconds as he begins the category 3  Côte de Saint-André (3km at 7%).

Kelderman and the chasers are almost within sight of Martin as the climb begins.

A smooth-pedalling Wilco Kelderman leads the chasers up to Tony Martin after just 500 metres of the climb. Martin sits up and waits for the main peloton, his show of defiance at an end. The peloton trails by 30 seconds.

16km remaining from 156km

Alejandro Valverde attacks from the main peloton and begins picking off some of the stragglers from the break, which has exploded on the lower slopes of this climb.

At the same time, Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) attacks alone from the break and opens a gap. Only Cyril Gautier manages to stay within sight of him.

Valverde's move is snuffed out by Ag2r and Cannondale, who are working for Bardet and Dan Martin. Van Garderen has just Rohan Dennis for company in the yellow jersey group.

16km remaining from 156km

Van Garderen sits confidently in fourth wheel in the bunch, just behind Valverde, with Nibali and Froome lined up behind him. They are 30 seconds down on Cummings.

As a group featuring Kelderman and Izagirre is about to be swept up by the yellow jersey peloton, it seems that only Cummings and Gautier are still out in front.

15km remaining from 156km

Cummings slips into the big ring as he approaches the summit, and he clutches a lead of 37 seconds over the yellow jersey group.

Dennis leads the yellow jersey group over the top 40 seconds down on Cummings.

14km remaining from 156km

It's a short but sinuous descent and it offers Cummings a chance to stretch his buffer over the group behind him.

A frisson on the descent. Alejandro Valverde attacks from the yellow jersey group and all but forces Gautier off the road as he passes him on a sharp bend.

Valverde has a small gap over the yellow jersey group as he continues in lone pursuit of Cummings.

10km remaining from 156km

Cummings has padded out his advantage to over a minute as he approaches the base of the final climb.

9km remaining from 156km

Valverde is dangling alone in front of the yellow jersey group, 54 seconds down on Cummings.

8km remaining from 156km

Cummings begins the final haul to Modane with a lead of 1:19 over the yellow jersey group. He faces 8.4km of climbing at an average gradient of 5.7%.

Sky have taken over at the front of the bunch with Nicolas Roche leading.

8km remaining from 156km

Vincenzo Nibali powers to the front of the yellow jersey group with Michele Scarponi tucked onto his rear wheel.

7km remaining from 156km

Nibali's overall aspirations ended yesterday but his effort here has strung out the yellow jersey group into a long line. Cummings' lead is down to 1:04.

6km remaining from 156km

Valverde is swept up by the Nibali-led peloton. Froome is tucked in third position with teammate Wout Poels and yellow jersey van Garderen on his wheel. Nicolas Roche has lost contact as a result of Nibali's forcing.

6km remaining from 156km

Cummings is putting up stout resistance, and he leads by 53 seconds as Nibali continues to lead the chase, with Scarponi still on his wheel.

There are still 40 riders or so in the yellow jersey group, where van Garderen looks assured in fifth wheel. He still has Rohan Dennis for company.

5km remaining from 156km

Nibali swings over and Michele Scarponi launches a telegraphed attack. Chris Froome, Poels, van Garderen and Rui Costa are swiftly on his wheel.

A gap briefly opens behind Rui Costa before Bardet swiftly moves up to close it. The yellow jersey group is very stretched now, however, under the weight of Scarponi's forcing.

5km remaining from 156km

Poels moves past Scarponi and takes up the reins for Chris Froome. Cummings' lead is down to 45 seconds.

4km remaining from 156km

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) attacks on a hairpin and his effort has dislodged a few more riders from this yellow jersey group.

4km remaining from 156km

Rodriguez opens a small gap while the yellow jersey group is down to ten riders or so. Poels leads Froome, with van Garderen on his wheel. Rui Costa, Bardet, Intxausti and Dan Martin are all still in there.

4km remaining from 156km

Cummings enters the final four kilometres with a 25-second lead on the yellow jersey group.

Rodriguez is pegged back by the very elite yellow jersey group, which contains Froome, Poels, Van Garderen, Scarponi, Dan Martin, Simon Yates and Romain Bardet. Cummings is 23 seconds up the road.

3km remaining from 156km

The yellow jersey group is just one hairpin behind Cummings. Intxausti has been distanced, so Rui Costa is in line to move up to the podium. Wout Poels has put in a long stint on the front in support of Froome.

3km remaining from 156km

Dan Martin moves up the side of the yellow jersey group as the gradient bites.

Poels moves into the big ring and his huge effort shakes off Dan Martin.

2km remaining from 156km

Poels swings over and Froome attacks. Only Van Garderen seems capable of following the Sky man's acceleration.

Froome sweeps past Cummings but Van Garderen is steadily clawing his way back up to his rear wheel.

2km remaining from 156km

Van Garderen stalks Froome up the climb. He is less than 50 metres behind the Sky man. Rodriguez, Bardet, Yates and Rui Costa are a further 100 metres behind.

2km remaining from 156km

Froome spins his legs at an improbable rate, his gaze fixed on his powermeter. Van Garderen is beginning to yield ground inch by inch but he hasn't cracked as yet.

1km remaining from 156km

Froome's startlingly high cadence is carrying him clear of van Garderen. The gap is flagged at 8 seconds. Froome is 18 down overall, remember, and there are bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds for the top three on the stage.

1km remaining from 156km

Van Garderen now trails by 12 seconds. The Bardet group is 27 seconds back.

1km remaining from 156km

Van Garderen has finally yielded and Froome is out of sight, in a race of his own as he approaches the flamme rouge.

1km remaining from 156km

Froome has a winning gap as he enters the final kilometre. Simon Yates attacks from the group behind, with only Rui Costa able to follow.

Yates and Rui Costa bridge up to Van Garderen, and they could compound his woes by snaffling the bonuses for second and third.

A defiant Van Garderen leads Yates and Rui Costa, but he is 16 seconds down on Froome and losing the Dauphine.

Chris Froome with his elbows jutting outwards crosses the line to win the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine.

Van Garderen comes home in fourth place behind Yates and Rui Costa, around 18 seconds down. The gap is almost academic - the winner's time bonus means that Froome has won the general classification.

Rui Costa, cycling's Mr. June, will take third overall, while Simon Yates will take fourth and the white jersey of best young rider.

Froome was indeed 18 seconds up on van Garderen today, so his margin of overall victory is 10 seconds.

Result:

1 Chris Froome (GBr) Sky
2 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge 00:00:18
3 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
5 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 00:00:28
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7 Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin 00:00:31
8 Wouter Poels (Ned) Sky 00:00:44
9 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar
10 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar

Final general classification:

1 Chris Froome (GBr) Sky 30:59:02
2 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC 00:00:10
3 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida 00:01:16
4 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar 00:01:21
5 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge 00:01:33
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale 00:02:05
7 Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin 00:02:52
8 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 00:03:06
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 00:03:12
10 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin 00:04:17

Froome speaks to French television as he warms down. Let’s hope he remembers to attend the winner’s press conference too. “I can’t believe it. I couldn’t have expected it to go any better,” Froome says. "The legs were tired and the team was suffering from their work yesterday, I don’t know how they did it, but they lifted themselves because the yellow jersey was in sight. Up until now I’ve just been looking to the end of the Dauphiné. Of course the Tour de France is the big objective, and I’m almost ready.”

Thanks for joining our live coverage from the Dauphiné this week. A full report, results and pictures will follow here, and we'll be back with live coverage from the Tour de Suisse every day next week.

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