The Dauphine Libere took a dramatic turn on Saturday?s stage as Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) wrenched the overall lead from Kazakh Andrey Kashechkin (Astana).
When Moreau took off on the Col du Telegraphe, the last climb of the day before the finish in Valloire, it appeared to be a carbon copy of his attack that earned the veteran Frenchman his victory on the Ventoux on Thursday.
However, it was too late for Moreau to take the stage win ? that went to Astana?s Maxim Iglinsky after he took off on the Telegraphe from a day-long break of 11.
But no matter, in just eight kilometres (four of climbing, four of an ultra-fast descent to Valloire), Moreau – with Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) and Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) glued to his back wheel ? opened up enough of a gap to return to the overall lead. Kashechkin finished four minutes down on team-mate Iglinsky, sliding to third on gc.
?I was just 14 seconds back on Kashechkin so it made sense to go for it.? said Moreau.
?I attacked just at the right moment when Astana had put in a lot of work to split the bunch. I had nothing to lose, I?ve already had a good Dauphine with two stage wins, so this was the icing on the cake.?
For Iglinsky, taking Astana?s third stage win of the week represented a major step forward in gaining a Tour place. A former Tour de L?Avenir leader and winning of the Kazakh National Time Trial Championships a few years back, he?s now all but certain of riding the Tour this year.
Confirming suspicions that Astana?s interest in the Dauphine may well be limited, Iglinsky said ?we want stage wins more than the overall here.? With the Kazakh ambassdaor for France due to have a ride in the Astana team-car tomorrow, expect more fireworks on Sunday?s tough final stage..
Barring last-minute disaster, Moreau seems well on track for repeating his overall victory of 2001 in the Dauphine Libere. Evans is a mere 14 seconds back, but given Moreau?s superb riding in the mountains, it is unlikely the Australian will be able to shake the Frenchman off on the Dauphine?s last tough climb, the Cote de Forclaz.
?If Evans rides the way he did today, sitting on my bike wheel on the time, I don?t think he?s going to win.? Moreau said. He may have a point.
DAUPHINE LIBERE: STAGE SIX, GAP – VALLOIRE
1 Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana 198km in 5-51-32
2 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Credit Agricole at 51sec
3 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bouygues
4 Remy Di Gregorio (Fra) Francaise des Jeux all st
5 Egoi Martínez (Spa) Discovery at 2-16
6 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7 Alexandr Kuschynski (Byl) Liquigas all st
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Ag2R at 2-23
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto at 2-25
10 Leonardo Piepoli (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir at st
67 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir at 18-55
93 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis at 30-08
1 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Ag2R 26-54-25
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto at 14sec
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana at 1-27
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 1-52
5 David Zabriskie (USA) CSC at 2-16
6 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis at 3-17
7 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 3-58
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery at 4-24
9 Manuel Beltrán (Spa) Liquigas at 5-01
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Lampre at 5-17
58 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir at 31-37
91 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis at 59-31