Critérium du Dauphiné: Dani Moreno takes final stage as Bradley Wiggins completes successful defence
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Critérium du Dauphiné: Dani Moreno takes final stage as Bradley Wiggins completes successful defence

by Ben Atkins at 8:48 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Critérium du Dauphiné
 
British champion calmly presides over a day of attacks across the medium Alps

dani moreno

Dani Moreno (Katusha) sprinted to victory at the uphill finish of the seventh and last stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, between Morzine and Châtel, after a short, sharp stage across some of the lesser climbs of the Alps. The Spanish rider was able to come around the wheel of compatriot Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank) after he had attacked around the final bend with 200 metres to go, to win by half a length.

Third place overall Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), wearing the green jersey of the points classification, was third, ahead of Edvals Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) as race leader Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) was quite happy to sit back and watch his teammates battle for the stage.

“My team has been super!” said a delighted Moreno afterwards. “I had this idea to try and sprint from a small group as I suspected the finale to suit my characteristics. Both Luis León Sánchez and I got away at the last moment.

“I felt tired at the end of the Dauphiné but I found the strength I needed to win again today,” he added. “I’m very happy with that. I’m following the same plan as last year that includes the Giro and the Vuelta so I won’t be at the Tour de France where there are too many kilometres of time trial for me this year. I’ll keep racing with [Joaquim] “Purito” [Rodriguez]. Without him, I have opportunities like today to go for stage wins the same way he usually does it.”

After a fast start, the 124.5km stage was characterised by an break from Dimitri Fofonov (Astana), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack-Nissan), Christophe Le Mével (Garmin-Barracuda), French champion Sylvain Chavanel and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Jérôme Coppel (AG2R La Mondiale) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM). The eight riders escaped after 40km, and Coppel, Rolland and Westra left the others behind with around 40km to go, and the two Frenchmen dropped Westra on the descent of the Col du Corbier 20km later.

There were several attempts to escaped the peloton behind the break, but none was able to stick, and despite the extra power from Alexandre Geniez (Argos-Shimano), who bridged across in the closing kilometres, the break was over with 2.3km to go. Fabrice Jeandesboz (SAur-Sojasun) tried to escape in the final 800 metres, but he was pulled back by Richie Porte (Team Sky); after an attempt from Evans, Sánchez led into the finishing straight, where he was beaten on the line by Moreno.

Wiggins sat up as the riders ahead of him fought for the stage victory, crossing the line in a group ten seconds back; the British champion had enough of a cushion however, to finish 1’17” ahead of Sky teammate Michael Rogers, and 1’26” ahead of Evans.

"I not the favourite for the Tour de France but I’m one of the favourites for sure," said Wiggins. "We’ve seen this week that I’m not the only one; Cadel is also going well. Team Sky has been up there every day and we’re also on second and fourth place overall.

"This is a major victory," he added. "People talk a lot about the Tour de France, but to win Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné the same year is massive. So, whatever happens at the Tour, I can already be satisfied. Now that the Dauphiné is finished I can turn my focus to the Tour.

"I’ll take some rest and try to avoid as many people as I can," the British champion joked. "My preparation has been fantastic. In terms of hard work, as much as could be done has been done."

More mountains but surely not enough to unseat the yellow jersey

While the final stage was to feature five classified climbs in its short length, it would be nothing like as tough as the two high mountain days that preceded it. The 1st category Col du Corbier, which topped out with just 22km to go, would provide the biggest opportunity for Wiggins’ rivals to topple him, as well as the 3rd category climb to the finish line.

Despite early attempts to escape from Chavanel, Daniel Teklehaimanot (Orica-GreenEdge), and the three-man group of Rémi Pauriol (FDJ-BigMat), Davide Cimolai (Lampre-ISD) and Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), the race was all together for most of the first hour.

Finally though, Rolland, Coppel and Westra got away at the 40km point, just after mountains jersey José Sarmiento (Liquigas-Cannondale) had led the peloton over the 4th category Côte de Mijouet. Teammates Chavanel and Vandenbergh quickly bridged across to the trio, and were soon followed by Fofonov, Popovych and Le Mével to make the group up to eight.

The group quickly opened up a lead of 2’15” over the peloton but, with Coppel just 4’39” behind Wiggins, in 15th place, this was as far as it was allowed to go. Having dominated the previous stage, Team Sky was allowing third place Cadel Evans’ BMC Racing Team to do much of the work to control the break, with Katusha also lending a hand.

With 38km to go, as the Katusha and BMC Racing teams had brought the gap down to less than 1’30”, Devenyns was dropped by the break as they began the short, but steep 2nd category Côte de la Vernaz. Shortly afterwards, as Coppel pushed the pace, only Rolland and Westra could go with him and the three riders struck out for the summit together.

There was a brief attack from Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis), Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Anthony Charteau (Europcar) over the top of the climb, with the gap to the leaders back up to 1’55”, but they were soon reeled in after the descent.

BMC Racing, Katusha and Team Sky continued their steady pace as the race hit the slopes of the Col du Corbier, and began to pick up the dropped breakaway riders. With 25km to go, and three kilometres still to climb, the gap to the leaders was down to 1’17”, but was holding steady as the three climbers continued to work well together.

Simone Stortoni (Lampre-ISD) accelerated past the front of the peloton, followed by Mikael Chérel (AG2R La Mondiale), they were joined by stage six winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan), then Charteau jumped across. Stortoni was soon dropped by the group he had initiated, but was replaced by compatriot Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale).

Wiggins shuts down the attacks himself as the breakaway is steadily reeled in

Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) chased and passed the group, but was gradually caught again. Team Sky had taken over at the head of the peloton and was not letting them get far away, but then Wiggins himself bridged up to the group, and the rest followed close behind him.

Up ahead Coppel led Rolland over the top, and on the fast descent that followed the two Frenchmen distance Westra. The peloton was just 48 seconds behind them by now, as Nibali began to demonstrate his famous descending skills, and began to bridge the gap.

On the false flat approach to the final climb, with 15km to go, Coppel and Rolland had reopened their lead over the peloton to 1’08”, but Nibali was now just 38 seconds behind them. BMC Racing was leading the chase now; Nibali caught Westra, but was unable to stay with the Dutchman as they fought to catch the two leaders, and was reeled in with just over ten kilometres to go.

Coppel and Rolland had just 31 seconds now, as BMC Racing pulled the peloton past Westra, and the American team was shutting it down quickly.

Into the final eight kilometres, with the gap no more than a dozen seconds, Alexandre Geniez (Argos-Shimano) attacked and made his way across to his two compatriots up the road. He caught them with just over six kilometres to go and went straight to the front; he was not happy about his two new companions simply sitting on his wheel though, and compelled them to help him out. Both riders were very tired by now however, and there was little they could do to hold off the Katusha-led chase behind them.

The three Frenchmen were allowed to dangle a few seconds clear though, as BMC Racing took over again, but were finally caught with 2.3km to go, just as the final climb was about to begin.

As the road began to rise Katusha took over again, but Chérel soon pushed to the front and began to lift the pace further. Under the flamme rouge Evans came forward, with Wiggins seemingly happy to let him do, but Jeandesboz jumped clear soon afterwards. Porte led the peloton across to him in the final half kilometre; Evans tried to escape, but his compatriot quickly pulled the rest across.

Sánchez tried to jump clear around the final bend, but Moreno was on his tail with Boasson Hagen on his. The two Spanish riders sprinted side by side as the line approached, with the Katusha rider just edging in front.

Wiggins had been happy to watch all this, comfortable with his lead, and calmly rolled over the line a few seconds later, punching the air with both fists. The British champion comfortably took his second straight victory in the pre-Tour race, setting himself up as the man to beat in July.

Result stage 7
1. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha Team
2. Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Rabobank
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
5. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
6. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
7. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
8. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
9. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
10. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Sky @ 7s

Final overall standings
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
2. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Sky @ 1’17”
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 1’26”
4. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky @ 1’45”
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol @ 2’12”
6. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team @ 2’58”
7. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team Astana @ 3’07”
8. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank @ 3’26”
9. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky @ 3’34”
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan @ 3’50”

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