Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack) successfully defended his lead ahead of Alberto Contador (Astana) to secure overall victory in the 2010 Criterium du Dauphine in France on Sunday, and claim the biggest win of his career.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) showed he was back on form after suffering with injury by launching a trademark attack at the end of the final day’s action to take the stage win.
Boasson Hagen had been part of an earlier large breakaway group that had slowly been whittled down by the blistering pace on the stage’s circuit-based finale.
The Norwegian played a waiting game until the final ascent of the third-category Cote de Domancy, where he attacked breakaway companions Arkaitz Duran (Footon-Servetto), Christophe Le Mevel (Francaise des Jeux), Egor Silin (Katusha) and Ivan Santaromita (Liquigas-Doimo).
Duran and Silin attempted to follow him, while the others paid for their earlier efforts. The two chasers couldn’t catch Boasson Hagen, particularly as the descent to the finish line was slick with rain and the Sky man crossed the line unchallenged.
Duran came home in second, 27 seconds behind Boasson Hagen with Silin in third at 32 seconds.
It’s Boasson Hagen’s first win since returning to competition after suffering with a persistent achilles heel injury that wrecked his classics season. Now it looks like he’s back on form ready for the Tour de France, where he will be in the hunt for stage wins and supporting Sky’s leader Bradley Wiggins.
Behind the scrap for the stage win, race leader Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack) and second-placed overall Alberto Contador (Astana) kept each other company. Brajkovic lead Contador in the overall classification by one minute 41 seconds going into the stage, an almost unassailable lead, and one that remained intact.
Tejay van Garderen (HTC-Columbia) came third overall after putting in a strong performance all week, starting with second place behind Contador in the opening prologue and continuing all the way to the final stage, where the young American lead home the bunch for fifth.
Contador will be happy with second overall and he will be happy with yesterday’s penultimate stage win on Alpe d’Huez, which again showed that the defending Tour de France winner’s preparations for July are nicely on track.
However, RadioShack will be celebrating the Brajkovic’s win, but also that the Slovenian – who will be one of Lance Armstrong’s key helpers at the Tour – matched Contador on the climbs and beat him in Wednesday’s key 49km time trial. A feat that few have achieved this season.
Britain’s highest-placed rider overall was Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), who finished a creditable 11 minutes and 50 seconds behind Brajkovic. Thomas featured in the top ten in each of the first four days of the race and earned him the sprint leader’s jersey for a spell – he eventually finished fifth in the points classification, won by Contador.
Thomas’s team-mate Peter Kennaugh was Britain’s only other finisher, in 39th overall. Brits David Millar (Garmin-Transitions), Russell Downing (Team Sky) and Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo) all failed to finish the final stage.
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage seven: Allevard-les-Bains – Sallanche, 148km
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
2. Arkaitz Duran (Spa) Footon-Servetto at 27sec
3. Egor Silin (Rus) Katusha at 32sec
4. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux at 34sec
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA) HTC-Columbia at 40sec
6. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
7. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
8. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
9. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
10. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack all same time
18. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 1-02
92. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky at 10-53
Final overall classification
1. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack in 28-06-28
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 1-41
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) HTC-Columbia at 2-41
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 3-46
5. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 4-17
6. Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 4-23
7. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 4-23
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 6-16
9. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack at 6-20
10. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Doimo at 6-57
21. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 11-50
39. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky at 22-47
David Millar in the early break
Alberto Contador (l) congratulates overall winner Janez Brajkovic