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Critérium du Dauphiné stage 6 - Live coverage

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Hello there and welcome along as the 2021 Critérium du Dauphiné gets serious. After a time trial and four stages that could (and maybe should) have been won by Sonny Colbrelli, we now head for the mountains. Today's route isn't quite as severe as the weekend's fare, but it should still start to test the general classification hopefuls. 

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The riders have all signed on under blue skies and the start of the stage is coming up in just a few minutes. 

Today's route is flat for the first 110km before the hills begin in the last 50. The category-2 Col de la Placette makes way for the tougher Col de Porte, which was used last year but this time is climbed from the opposite, easier side. After a hairy descent we have a pair of cat-3 climbs which sort of roll into one gentle final climb to the line. It's not the sort of terrain that's going to open big gaps between the GC riders, but we could see some movement, especially in the final push for the line, if there's no breakaway out front.

A slightly late roll-out but we are moving. A few minutes in the neutral zone and then we'll be racing.

We're off

The riders reach kilometre-zero and the stage is waved underway.

Here come the first attacks. Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal) and Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) are on the move but it doesn't last long.

If you missed yesterday's stage, you missed a thriller. Full results, report, and photos can be found here.

Still no breakaway as the peloton barrels along these opening kilometres at full whack.

It seems many see this as a breakaway day. There's no shortage of attempts to get up the road, but nothing sticking yet.

Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Israel Start-Up Nation) gets a gap but is quickly brought to heel.

It's been almost 50kph so far, aided by a slight tailwind. 

Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels) is another to have a go but no one's going anywhere at the moment.

127km to go

40km on the clock and a group of nine riders goes clear.

Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) and Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal) are part of this move but the peloton isn't letting it go.

A few more riders clip off the front.

That breakaway attempt swells to 14 riders and they have a bit of a gap as things begin to settle in the peloton. Is that it or is there more to come?

The escapees are:

Lawson Craddock (EF-Nippo), Olivier Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), Omer Goldstein (Israel Start-Up Nation), Laurent Pichon (Arkéa-Samsic), Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal), Sven Erik Bystrom (UAE Team Emirates), Josef Cerny (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), Damien Howson (Team BikeExchange), Martin Salmon (Team DSM), Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels), Jan Bakelants (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).

117km to go

Astana take control of the bunch as the gap goes out to 40 seconds.

The gap rises to two minutes and so this is finally our break of the day.

Correction: The BikeExchange rider is Barnabas Peak, not Howson.

Bora-Hansgrohe have started working on the front of the peloton. They have the leader's yellow jersey on the shoulders of Lukas Postlberger.

Bora are working but apparently they're not looking at keeping Postlberger in yellow for another day. If it was a sedate pace on the climbs, he could in theory hang in there, but even so Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) is just one second down and is well suited to a stage like today. Bora instead have two GC cards in Wilco Kelderman - 5th at 13 seconds - and Patrick Konrad - 9th at 32 seconds. 

Here's Postlberger himself explaining the tactics this morning to the irrepressible Antoine Plouvin.

"Today's gonna be a GC day. Of course I expect a hard mountain stage and we will try and support Wilco and Kony for the final. That's the main goal. We're actually not trying to defend the jersey anymore, it's more focusing on the GC goals now. It was a really nice run and I enjoyed it."

101km to go

The gap has stabilised at 2:30. Van Avermaet is the best-placed on GC of the breakaway riders, 2:40 down at the start of the day. 

A fast and furious start

Dauphine

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The gap remains stable at 2:35. As it stands, the breakaway's hopes of competing for stage honours are slim.

Chris Froome was distanced again on the final climb yesterday. For the first time, he has come out and acknowledged he has no chance of winning the Tour de France this year. Here are his comments.

A shot of our breakaway

LE SAPPEYENCHARTREUSE FRANCE JUNE 04 Sven Erik Bystrom of Norway and UAE Team Emirates Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium and AG2R Citren Team in breakaway during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 6 a 1672km stage from LoriolsurDrome to Le SappeyenChartreuse 1003m UCIworldtour Dauphin dauphine on June 04 2021 in Le SappeyenChartreuse France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Those breakaway riders have managed to extend their lead to three minutes.

65km to go

After two hours of racing, the average speed is an eye-watering 50.3km/h.

This is but one Tour de France preparation race. The Dauphiné's long-time rival, the Tour de Suisse, kicks off on Sunday and we've taken a look at the pick of the start list. 

5 riders to watch at the 2021 men's Tour de Suisse

Given the pace, we're already nearing the first climb of the day. It's the category-2 Col de Placette, which is 5.1km long at an average gradient of 6.4%.

Holmes should be interested on this climb and the next. He's in the polka-dot jersey as leader of the mountains classification after being in the break on stage 2.

Holmes is on 13 points, while the only other riders with points in this breakaway are Craddock (5), Goldstein (3), Bernard (2), and Cerny (1).

The peloton has reduced the gap back down to 2:30

54km to go

Here we go then. The breakaway hit the Col de la Placette.

The peloton hits the climb 2:40 in arrears.

A few riders are being chucked out the back of the bunch but no big damage so far.

Cerny loses contact with the break towards the top of the climb

The break approach the summit and Holmes does indeed hit out. He's first across the line and takes the maximum five points.

KOM points atop the Col de la Placette

1. Holmes, 5 pts
2. Bakelants, 3 pts
3. Bystrom, 2 pts
4. Craddock, 1 pt

Cerny gets back in as the road tilts downhill.

Loig Vliegen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) abandons. He was dropped early on the climb.

45km to go

The Col de la Placette has done little to alter the complexion of the stage. The gap between break and bunch is still 2:30.

Now for the intermediate sprint in Saint-Joseph-de-Rivière.

Van Avermaet gets there first to take the maximum 10 points and three bonus seconds.

Intermediate sprint (km125.3)

1. Van Avermaet 10 points / 3 seconds
2. Bakelants 6 / 2
3. Salmon 4 / 1

The peloton reduce the deficit to 2:10 as the pace increases on the approach to the Col de Porte, the biggest climb of the day.

The pace continues to ramp up and riders are now being distanced from the peloton as the gap comes down to 1:25.

Here's what we're looking at between now and the finish line.

Dauphiné

(Image credit: ASO)

Colbrelli dropped. We're yet to reach the official start of the categorised climb but the gradient is already severe and the green jersey is among the increasing number of riders losing contact from the bunch.

Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), third overall, is also dropped.

Jumbo-Visma and Astana are keen to force the issue, with Tony Martin gurning on the front at the moment.

Postlberger is looking comfortable at the moment near the front of the bunch.

30km to go

The breakaway hit the plateau lip ahead of the real start of the Col de Porte. Their lead is down to 1:10.

The 14 escapees are still together but their advantage now ducks below the one-minute mark. The winner is surely going to come from the peloton.

27km to go

Onto the Col de Porte!

The climb measures 7.4km at 6.8 per cent.

Bernard almost immediately attacks.

Holmes goes after it.

That attack has quickly split the break, with Peak among those dropped.

Salmon, Cerny, Goldstein, and Pichon are also losing contact.

Attack from the peloton! It's Dylan Sunderland (Qhubeka Assos)

Bernard is up for it today. He attacks again to force a further selection.

Bernard opens a gap over the 8 remaining riders, who are sticking together for the time being. 

Jumbo-Visma are setting a steady tempo in the peloton.

Bernard is now 1:17 in front of the bunch. 

Van Avermaet, Bystrom, and Le Gac are now being distanced from that breakaway chase group.

That's because Holmes has really upped the pace. Only Craddock, Bakelants, Perez, and Bonnamour can stay with him. 

Tony Martin's work is done. The German pulls aside and now Astana take it up.

Martin kept the pace steady but Astana seem to be injecting significantly more pace.

Sunderland is quickly caught.

Astana have five riders on the front. It appears Alex Aranburu is not there, so he's not an option for the finish. Instead, it's for Lutsenko, who's second overall at one second. 

Astana bring the gap down to 50 seconds. 

We're 2.5km from the top of the Col de Porte and the six leaders - Holmes, Bernard, Perez, Bonnamour, Craddock, Bakelants - have 45 seconds over the Astana-led bunch. 

Postlberger in trouble!

The yellow jersey is dangling at the very back of a bunch that is now reducing quickly.

Potslberger loses contact. We're going to have a new overall leader by the end of the day. 

Craddock attacks up front!

Bonnamour and Bernard can't follow.

A lull, but Holmes goes now.

Bernard is back! Wow, that lull allows the Frenchman back in and he flies past Bakelants, Perez, and Craddock in pursuit of Holmes.

But there goes Craddock again. The American is swiftly away from Holmes and Bernard. He looks the strongest here.

Craddock was the last man standing yesterday, first over the steep late climb but caught 2.2km from the line, and he's looking good again here but the peloton are similarly just 40 seconds in arrears.

Perez has blown and is caught by the bunch. 

Craddock has opened a decent lead as he heads solo into the final 750 metres of the Col de Porte.

Craddock still looks fresh as he bursts out of the saddle in the final 500m. He might hold off the bunch on the fast descent but 40 seconds is surely not enough for the final two climbs.

Especially not when multiple teams want a high pace in the peloton... here come Movistar now.

19.6km to go

Craddock crests the Col de Porte in pole position.

Movistar lead the peloton over just 30 seconds later.

Now for the descent. Craddock gets into a tuck, though not a super one. This is the harder side of the Col de Porte and so it's a serious descent.

Holmes, Bakelants, and Bernard are still chasing, just ahead of the bunch. Holmes was second to the top of the climb to defend his lead in the mountains classification.

Movistar continue to set the pace on the descent. They're working for Alejandro Valverde, who's one of the leading contenders in a reduced bunch sprint on an uphill finish.

There are still around 60 riders in the peloton.

Holmes has been dropped by Bernard and Bakelants and is just ahead of the bunch.

Craddock is holding at 30 seconds out front.

The descent is snaking down and Craddock is making a very good job of it. He has 21 seconds over Bernard and Bakelants, and 34 seconds over the bunch now.

10km to go

Into the final 10 and Craddock is about to reach the foot of the descent.

The descent finishes and the road almost immediately tilts uphill. We now have two back-to-back cat-3 climbs, the first being the Côte de la Frette, 3.7km at 5.4%

Craddock hits it with a lead of 30 seconds, as Bernard and Bakelants are caught.

Movistar continue the charge. 

The Astana duo of Lutsenko and Izaguirre sit in the middle of the Movistar train. Lutsenko as it stands is moving into yellow and could also win the stage, while Izaguirre is also in the top 10 overall.

Ineos Grenadiers have set up shop behind that line.

Chris Froome is now struggling at the back of the bunch.

But Craddock is holding firm. This is another great ride from the American.

Froome is dropped now.

Ineos still have numbers. Van Baarle, Kwiatkowski, Thomas, Porte, and Geoghegan Hart are all still there. 

Craddock is losing ground now. 1km from the summit of this climb and the gap is down to 20 seconds.

5.6km to go

Craddock crests that first cat-3 climb. Here come the bunch just 14 seconds later.

A small plateau now and then it's time for the final climb to the line, which is 3.3km at 6.2%

It's Carlos Verona on the front for Movistar and he's doing a big ride here, working from the Col de Porte then all the way up that last climb. Movistar have Lopez as their GC rider as well as Valverde for today's stage.

The gap is still 13 seconds and the road is still tilting uphill, despite the official start of the final climb still to come.

Louis Meintjes attacks!

The Intermarché rider has been anonymous for so long. Is he on his way back?

Meintjes reaches Craddock

Slight split in the peloton as Van Baarle can't follow and pulls aside, leaving Kwiatkowski witha. gap to plug.

Craddock is caught and Meintjes is only dangling out front.

David Gaudu attacks!

Meintjes is caught.

Ineos take up the chase behind Gaudu through Kwiatkowski.

Geoghegan Hart attacks!

The 2020 Giro winner surges across to Gaudu. Kruijswijk sets off now.

Lopez gets across as well, along with Sepp Kuss.

It's getting messy here and Thomas now accelerates to get across to that group with his teammate Geoghegan Hart.

1.5km to go

Things come back together but the bunch is heavily reduced and the GC riders are striking out.

Lopez takes it up for Movistar. He's on the radio checking where Valverde is.

Lopez leads this select group towards the final kilometre. He'll want to keep this together for Valverde to sprint.

Geoghegan Hart and Thomas are riding behind Lopez. 

1km to go

Flamme rouge! Lopez still leads.

The riders are lining up as we enter the final 500m

Hart, Thomas, Kruijswijk, Valverde are behind Lopez

Geoghegan Hart opens up!

He has a gap!

Valverde responds

Valverde comes around and wins!

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) wins stage 6 of the Critérium du Dauphiné

Geoghegan Hart kicked really strongly and Thomas couldn't follow. Kuss responded quickly but Valverde went as well and began to distance the rest as he closed in on Geoghegan Hart and passed him at the last. Konrad and Kelderman were both up there for Bora.

Konrad it was who claimed the final podium spot.

Lutsenko couldn't match the final accelerations but moves into the yellow jersey as overall leader.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 3:52:53
2Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
3Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
4Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
5Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team
6Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
7Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
8Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
9Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
10Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma

General classification after stage 6
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 20:52:16
2Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:08
3Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:12
4Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:13
5Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM
6Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:15
7Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:27
8Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:34
9Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:39
10Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:42

Let's hear from our winner

“I’m super happy. First of all I have to thank my team who have worked incredibly all week. For the final part, Superman Lopez said to me ‘shall I pull’, and I said ‘ok’. To be honest I have to thank him because he did an incredible job.

“[Geoghegan Hart] opened up really strongly, and I saw Thomas was separated from him, so I couldn’t hesitate – I had to go. I tried to keep it steady at first but when I saw the barriers I just went all-out.”

Criterium du Dauphine 2021 - 73rd Edition - 6th stage Loriol-sur-Drome - Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse 167.2 km - 04/06/2021 - Alejandro Valverde (ESP - Movistar Team) - photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Valverde turned 41 in April but is having something of a resurgent season after his career appeared to be finally drying up in a winless 2020. He was fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on that 41st birthday in an Ardennes campaign where his worst result was fifth. This is his second win of the year after the GP Indurain in early April, and why not think about a decent GC result, having already finished top 10 at Catalunya and Basque Country this season.

Movistar do have two other cards to play on GC, the first being Lopez, who did such a strong lead-out today, and the other being Mas, who produced a neat sprint as well to place fifth on the stage. 

Here's Lutsenko in yellow

Criterium du Dauphine 2021 - 73rd Edition - 6th stage Loriol-sur-Drome - Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse 167.2 km - 04/06/2021 - Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ - Astana - Premier Tech) - photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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