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Dauphine Stage 6 (17)Unlike 2015 the Critérium du Dauphiné was not one which saw the lead changing on an almost daily basis, instead it was dominated by two past Tour de France winners and included 4 of the 5 most fancied riders to lift the crown in July. The short mountain prologue time trial proved to be very interesting as Chris Froome (Sky) went early but ended up 3rd overall. Richie Porte (BMC) was in the last group of riders and pipped his former team mate only to find himself behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff). Those positions stood for the next few days/stages as the sprinters took their chances on the flatter stages before the race moved in to the mountains.

Froome made his move on stage 5 and took the lead from Contador with a well timed attack on the finish to Vaujany. Contador and Porte lived to fight another day and it was Contador who relentlessly attacked on the 6th stage up the Col de la Madeleine but he could not break Froome. The top 3 were under attack from the French young guns though as it was Thibault Pinot (FDJ) and Romain Bardet (AG2R) who fought out the stage victory up to Meribel, bringing themselves back in to the battle for overall victory after significant time gains.

The final stage would be a real battle of the GC riders and the pace from the start was relentless. Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) was in the breakaway and was the only rider left as they approached the Col du Noyer. He soloed up the category 1 climb and on to Superdevoluy to take a memorable stage victory but behind him Froome, Contador, Porte, Bardet and Daniel Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) would make up the final top 5.

With Froome in the box seat, courtesy of his overall lead, he had no worries about the time bonuses affecting his overall position, he just had to watch the gaps and mark the other 4 riders. Contador needed the time bonus and to open up a gap too, to get back in to the top 3. He tried on the Col du Noyer several times and he only managed to drop Martin, (who rode back to the group on the descent to Superdevoluy). So with Contador unable to break the others he was destined for 5th overall and with Porte busy marking Froome he missed Bardet and Martin sweeping up the remaining time bonuses, pushing him down to 4th overall. Martin’s ride back after the Noyer was gutsy and gave him the chance to grab a podium spot, which he duly did. Bardet was a fine 2nd just 12 seconds behind Froome.

With the Tour de France just a few weeks away Froome added his 3rd Critérium du Dauphiné victory to his palmares, and after the previous two victories he then went on to take the big prize in Paris, in July. Will history repeat itself?

In the other battles Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) took the green sprinters jersey with Team Sky showing their depth in strength for the team prize. Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data) rode a great final stage to take the polka dot jersey for the 2nd year running and surely an outsider for the climbers jersey at the Tour de France now? The white jersey for the best young rider went to Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick step), who backed up his team leader Martin superbly.

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