Criterium du Dauphine: Chris Froome survives late crash as Jan Bakelants wins stage six
Last Updated: 13/06/14 4:36pm
Chris Froome survived a late crash to retain his lead of the Criterium du Dauphine as breakaway rider Jan Bakelants claimed victory on stage six.
Froome fell on a downhill left-hand turn with just over 8km to go, but was allowed to quickly rejoin the peloton after the teams on the front agreed to slow down to wait for him.
Despite being bloodied on his shoulder, elbow, hip and knee, the 29-year-old Briton finished alongside his rivals for overall victory to maintain his 12-second lead over second-placed Alberto Contador and third-placed Wilco Kelderman.
Bakelants formed part of the day’s initial 16-man breakaway but later forged clear alongside Lieuwe Westra and then outsprinted his Dutch rival to the finish in Poisy.
Froome said: “I had a bit of a crash in the final. Obviously, it is quite painful, but I was OK to finish the stage. It looks OK, I am just a little bit grazed for tomorrow. There's nothing broken, nothing serious, so nothing a good night's sleep won't fix.
“It is more just my hip, elbow and shoulder, but more than anything I just want to thank the other riders for neutralising the race. That is really big of them – good sportsmanship.
“I am not actually sure what happened. On the descent there was a hole in the road and I hit the hole and lost my front wheel.”
The 178.5km stage appeared suited to a breakaway winner and when a strong escape group forged clear and built up a lead of almost six minutes, it seemed certain they would battle for victory between themselves.
They stayed together until just over 21km to go, but with a finale packed with small climbs looming, Pim Lightart looked to thin the group down by launching an attack on the category-four ascent of Cote de Marcellaz-Albanais.
Westra and then Bakelants were the only men who could follow, and they later left Ligthart behind on the final climb of the category-four Cote de Ronzy, setting up a two-man sprint that Bakelants narrowly won.
Back down the road, there was little action in the peloton until Froome fell innocuously. Team Sky, who had been on the front all day, immediately knocked off the pace and the other teams were happy to stop racing until the yellow jersey rejoined them just over 1km later.
Saturday's seventh stage ends with a steep climb to the summit finish at Finhaut-Emosson. Froome added: "I'll see how I'm feeling in the morning, but obviously I'll do everything I can to try to sustain the yellow jersey. I imagine anyone with the legs in the final tomorrow will try to attack - that is where the race is going to be won or lost, I think.
“It is not a climb that I know, but it is definitely going to be tough from what I can see. I expect, with a 12-second advantage, I am going to have to really fight to hold on to the yellow jersey, but it’s not up to me to attack now, it’s up to my rivals."
Stage six result
1 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, 4:07
2 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana, same time
3 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) omega Pharma – Quick-Step, +24secs
4 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Belisol, st
5 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge, st
6 Jens Voigt (Ger) Trek Factory Racing, st
7 Matiej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale, st
8 Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin, st
9 Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
10 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, st
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 23:12:15
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +12secs
3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, +12
4 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +33
5 Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol, +35
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +50
7 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, +1:22
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, same time
9 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEdge, +1:24
10 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana, +1:35