6/11/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
Sanchez sprints to stage win at Superdévoluy
June 8, Stage 7: Le Pont-de-Claix - Superdévoluy 187.5km
Froome holds yellow as Rogers moves up to third
The queen stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné has seen the comeback of Samuel Sanchez as a winner more than a year after he won the Vuelta al Pais Basco. He outsprinted Jakob Fuglsang in a two-man fight at Superdévoluy while Chris Froome maintained his lead with authority, helped by Team Sky, as expected, and by Alberto Contador, who supported his Saxo-Tinkoff teammate Michael Rogers in his quest to third place overall.
“I’ve suffered a lot, especially in the last three kilometres,” Sanchez said. “Fuglsang was very strong but I gave everything I had to beat him at the end. It’s going to be wonderful for Euskaltel to start the Tour de France with this prestigious victory. We had just won two races [stages at the Tour of Castilla and Leon with Pablo Urtasun and Juan José Lobato] this year but nothing in the WorldTour. We didn’t get what we wanted from the Giro d’Italia, so it was good to keep going and come to here looking for something like this. Personally, I won’t take part in the Tour. I need to take a rest. It means a lot to me and the team to win at the Dauphiné.”
At the age of 35, the 2008 Olympic road race champion for road racing and King of the Mountains of the 2011 Tour de France is still hungry for winning. He waited for almost nine month for the occasion to pay tribute to his young team-mate Victor Cabedo, who died tragically in September last year, and Sanchez was still very emotional as he recalled the tragedy.
Euskaltel was represented by Gorka Izagirre in the 22-man breakaway, which formed at the initiative of Sylvain Chavanel after 25 kilometres of racing. Sergio Paulinho (Saxo-Tinkoff), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol), Alexey Lutsenko and Kevin Seeldrayers (Astana), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), Laurent Didier and Tony Gallopin (RadioShack), Travis Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), Jérôme Coppel (Cofidis), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Pierre Rolland and David Veilleux (Europcar), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Angel Madrazo and Eloy Teruel (Movistar), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Nikias Arndt and Thomas Damuseau (Argos-Shimano), Arnaud Gérard (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and David De La Cruz (NetApp-Endura) were the other riders up the road.
They reached Bourg d’Oisans at the bottom of l’Alpe d’Huez with an advantage of 3:30 that remained steady all the way to the top, as Team Sky kept the situation under control. At the summit, the time gap was 3:40. On the ascent of the Col d’Ornon, the front group led by Van den Broeck increased its advantage to 5:40 at the top but it was still a long way to go with a headwind to fight against on their way to the Col du Noyer.
Dropped earlier on, Chavanel accelerated on a downhill section with 33km to go and was joined by De Marchi. The Italian from Cannondale stayed away on the climb until he got reined in with 14km to go. The first man to pass him was Alberto Contador riding in unusual role for his team-mate Michael Rogers on the hunt for the third place on the final podium.
Less than two kilometres before the summit of Col du Noyer, Sanchez took a small advantage over the front group of climbers. He almost got caught at the top but only Fuglsang succeeded in making the junction. The duo continued with an advantage of 25 seconds that proved to be enough before tackling the 4km-long final ascent to the ski resort of Superdévoluy. It didn’t allow counter-attackers like Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Dani Navarro (Cofidis) and Richie Porte (Sky) to close the gap. The latter got some freedom to try and win the stage as Froome’s lead wasn’t threatened.
“This is one more day towards achieving my goal,” Froome said. “I know it’s going to be another hard stage tomorrow, especially because we’ll ride above 2000 metres of altitude [at col de Vars] but I feel the situation is under control. It’s going to be a tough finale but Richie has the legs to be there on the final climb. Hopefully we’ll finish it off. We have the two first places on GC. We can be in a very similar situation at the Tour de France too, so it’s a good exercise. It won’t be the same race though. There’ll be different teams with different objectives, like Saxo-Tinkoff, who were racing for third place on GC today. To have climbed l’Alpe d’Huez once was hard enough, so I can imagine what it’ll be like when we’ll do it twice on the same day at the Tour.”
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Photo credit © Roberto Bettini