Daniel Navarro (Astana) scored a well-taken lone stage win on Friday’s fifth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné between Serre Chevalier and Grenoble, while there were no changes in the overall classification among the favourites, with RadioShack’s Janez Brajkovic retaining the lead by 1-15 over US rider Tejay Van Garderen (HTC), with Navarro’s Astana team-mate Alberto Contador in third.
Navarro was freed of team responsibilities for the day, bursting out of the peloton on the last climb of the day – the hors-catégorie Chamrousse – catching the remnants of the day’s breakaway, and then forging on alone down the 30-kilometre descent to the finish.
Behind him, Brajkovic kept a close eye on Contador, and had to react when Britain’s David Millar – fourth overall, 1-56 down on the Slovenian – surged clear at the top of Chamrousse.
Millar tried again almost immediately on the descent, but Brajkovic’s RadioShack lieutenants were never going to let him get too far, and he was pulled back into the fold.
As Navarro headed for the lone victory, breakaway survivors Eros Capecchi (Footon-Servetto) and Thibaut Pinot (Francaise des Jeux) chased in vain, and despite the four kilometres of flat before the finish, could only follow Navarro in, 34 seconds down.
The peloton came home 3-04 down on the stage winner, but little damage had been done when it came to the overall contenders, with the likes of Brajkovic and Contador keeping their powder dry for Saturday’s epic 152-kilometre ‘queen stage’ between Crolles and Alpe d’Huez.
“I normally work for Contador, of course, but I had my chance today, and took it,” said Navarro – the spitting image of his team leader – who took his first pro win. “I didn’t really believe in myself on the long descent, but the team encouraged me, and it paid off.
“Now I’ll work for Contador tomorrow [Saturday] and Sunday,” said the 26-year-old Spaniard, who will be hoping that with his stage win he can muscle in on Astana’s Tour de France squad.
Millar remains fourth overall, while fellow Brit Geraint Thomas (Sky) regained the points classification lead from Brajkovic with some smart riding to net himself three valuable points.
Criterium du Dauphiné
Stage five: Serre-Chevalier – Grenoble, 143.5km
1. Daniel Navarro (Spa) Astana 3:26:16
2. Eros Capecchi (Ita) Footon-Servetto at 34sec
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Francaise des Jeux at same time
4. Dimitri Champion (Fra) Ag2r at 1-39
5. Egoi Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel at same time
6. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne at same time
7. Blel Kadri (Fra) Ag2r at 2-40
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at same time
9. Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at same time
10. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r at same time
General classification after stage five:
1. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack 19:55:04
2. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Columbia at 1-15
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 1-41
4. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions at 1-56
5. Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 2-43
6. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2-55
7. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r at 3-05
8. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto at 3-06
9. Christian Knees (Ger) Milram at 3-10
10. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at 3-28
21. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 4-38
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RadioShack take control on the Col du Lauteret
Egoi Martinez leads the escape
Daniel Navarro goes solo
Janez Brajkovic retains overall lead