Criterium du Dauphine: Alberto Contador takes Chris Froome's lead as Lieuwe Westra triumphs
Last Updated: 14/06/14 5:23pm
Alberto Contador seized the overall lead of the Criterium du Dauphine from Chris Froome with a late attack on the climb to stage seven’s summit finish at Finhaut-Emosson.
Froome had taken a 12-second advantage over Contador into the penultimate day of the race but had no response when his Spanish rival surged clear with just under 2km of the hors-categorie ascent remaining.
Contador quickly opened up lead of around 15 seconds and although a clearly exhausted Froome began to fight back with 1km to go, he continued to ship time and eventually crossed the line 20 seconds down.
It means Contador, who finished fourth on the day, now leads the general classification by eight seconds with just Sunday’s 130.5km eighth stage to the category-one summit finish at Courchevel remaining.
Westra takes victory
Stage seven was won by breakaway rider Lieuwe Westra, who had formed part of the day’s 14-man breakaway and produced a remarkable performance in the final kilometres to snatch victory from second-placed Yuri Trofimov and third-placed Egor Silin, both of Katusha.
Contador said: “We left it very late. We are on the penultimate stage today and I had to anticipate what everyone else was doing. Many went to the absolute limit out there today and you don’t know what you’ve got until the very end. A lot of riders were broken, but it was an incredible battle. It’s not over yet. It’s been an incredible race."
Trofimov moved into a solo lead of the stage by attacking his fellow breakaway riders on the penultimate climb, the hors-categorie Col de la Forclaz, and when he was then joined by team-mate Silin at the foot of the final ascent, it looked certain that Katusha would be celebrating their third stage win of the race.
Westra, though, conjured a marvellous lone fightback and overtook the two Russians in the final 200m to make amends for narrowly missing out on victory on stage six.
'Not over until it's over'
Back down the road, Team Sky set a draining pace on the front of the peloton up the final climb as they looked to snuff out any threats to the lead of Froome, who was bandaged after a heavy fall 24 hours earlier. However, Contador remained fresh and took control of the race with a perfectly measured attack.
Froome said: “Obviously I’m disappointed to lose the yellow jersey. I took a bit of a knock yesterday in the crash and lost a bit of energy because of that. I’m remaining upbeat and I’m only eight seconds down with one stage to go. It’s not over until it’s over.
“I think it’s normal after yesterday that I was a little bit off, but having said that, Alberto rode a fantastic race, so respect to him. He took the race on when it was at its hardest, and he’s got the jersey to show for it.
"I felt a bit blocked up through my thighs, especially where I landed yesterday, but I’m not going to let it get me down. I slept well and I think I’ll sleep even better tonight."
Stage seven result
1 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana, 4:32:51
2 Yuri Trofimov (Rus) Katusha, +7secs
3 Egor Silin (Rus) Katusha, +16
4 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +1:33
5 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +1:51
6 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp, +1:53
7 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, same time
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +2:11
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:16
10 Sebastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling, +2:19
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, 27:46:51
2 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +8secs
3 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +39
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, +59
5 Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) lotto Belisol, +1:14
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +1:16
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:11
8 Sebastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling, +2:14
9 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, +2:50
10 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEdge, +2:52