6/11/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
De Marchi wins final stage of Dauphiné
June 9, Stage 8: Sisteron - Risoul 155.5km
Froome seals final overall victory at Risoul
Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) claimed the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné while Chris Froome (Sky) sealed overall victory and delivered another message to his rivals for next month’s Tour de France.
De Marchi was the last survivor of the day’s early break and he withstood heavy rain and a determined pursuit from Sky’s Froome and Richie Porte on the tough final climb to Risoul to take a well-earned victory. He had been involved in a ding-dong battle with fellow escapee Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) on the final climb, and finally caught and passed the Belgian with 5km to go.
At that point, De Marchi had almost two minutes in hand on the yellow jersey group and looked odds on to win the stage, but he endured a late scare when Froome accelerated clear of the general classification contenders in the final two kilometres with Richie Porte on his wheel. Ultimately, however, the Italian hung on to win by 24 seconds and claim the first victory of his professional career.
“This victory rewards me for all the unsuccessful breakaways I’ve made since I turned professional,” De Marchi said afterwards. “It was the dream of my life to achieve something like this and I’m delighted it happened at such a big race. I’ve tried so many times and I can only be happy with this.
De Marchi, who joined Cannondale from Androni-Venezuela during the off-season, had been in the early break on Saturday, but was passed by the overall contenders on the Col du Noyer. Understandably, he feared history would repeat itself on Saturday.
“Once I was alone in the lead, I gave everything I had but I was afraid of the return of Team Sky and the peloton,” he said. “I don’t know what happened behind me. It might sound absurd but I had much better legs in the breakaway yesterday, but it’s just the circumstances of racing that weren’t favourable. Even today, until 1km to go, I didn’t believe I could win.”
While De Marchi was grinding his way to stage victory up ahead, there was a concerted battle going on in the chasing group for the podium places, even if Chris Froome’s yellow jersey never seemed in doubt. The Briton was well-marshalled by Sky teammates Vasili Kiryienka and Peter Kennaugh during the early part of the climb before taking matters in hand himself with two kilometres to go.
Although Froome and Porte were unable to catch De Marchi – and were themselves caught by a determined Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) within sight of the line – it was another emphatic demonstration of Froome’s qualities as the Tour de France approaches. Froome finished the race with 58 seconds to spare over Porte overall, while Daniel Moreno (Katusha) took third, 2:12 behind.
“It’s been a dream scenario,” Froome said. “The Dauphiné was a build up race, so to come away with the victory plus one of my best friends and team-mate Richie Porte in second place overall, I couldn’t ask for more. Of course, it’s a very positive test for the Tour de France. I know that I’ll do everything I can to win it as well.”
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) is the man widely expected to pose the biggest threat to Froome at the Tour de France, and the Spaniard picked himself up from a crash on the descent of the Col du Vars to go on the offensive on the final climb to Risoul in the company of Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard).
As is their wont, Sky opted not to react to the move instantly, but observers never got the chance to see if Contador was able to ask telling questions of Froome as the Spaniard relented once his teammate Michael Rogers – third overall before the stage – was dropped by Sky’s pace-making.
Contador was unsuccessful in his attempt to help Rogers hold his position as they came in almost two minutes down and the Australian veteran dropped to 6th overall, while Dani Moreno moved on to the podium, and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) also leapfrogged ahead of Rogers in the standings.
Another impressive performer on the final climb was Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), who battled his way to finish 10th on the stage to claim the young riders’ classification and 8th place overall. “If it wasn’t for my team, I wouldn’t have done it. I was just thinking of pulling out because it was so cold up the Col de Vars and I couldn’t move my hands anymore,” Dennis said. “But Andrew Talansky sacrificed his gloves for me. He rode without them for the rest of the stage and I’m grateful for his generosity. I had to finish it off.”
The peloton had to deal with heavy rain for most of the 155km stage, which was animated by a 24-man break that formed in the opening kilometres. After the descent of the Col de Vars, five riders were left out in front – De Marchi, Wellens, Manuel Quinziato (BMC), Alberto Losada (Katusha) and Travis Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) – but on the final ascent, it was De Marchi who had the sharpest wits and strongest legs.
Although Saxo-Tinkoff had forced the pace on the Col de Vars in a bid to isolate Froome, the yellow jersey still had his chaperone of men in black on the road to Risoul, and Sky looked utterly in control in the closing kilometres of the race. Three weeks ahead of the Tour, Froome and Porte look to be a step ahead of the opposition, even if the Dauphiné was preaching caution.
“We’ve got some good reasons to be confident with such a great team but in cycling, nothing can be taken for granted,” Froome said. “But it will be an advantage to have two riders able to target high positions on GC. It’s a very favourable situation.”
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Photo credit © Fotoreporter Sirotti