Pete Kennaugh (Team Sky) took his second career win at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Alpe d’Huez on stage seven of the 2017 race, beating his former team-mate and fellow Brit Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates) to the win.
Kennaugh and Swift had been part of a large breakaway group earlier in the day, and were able to distance their rivals on the slopes of the Col de Sarenne, the alternate route up towards the Alpe d’Huez ski resort.
Swift was unable to stick with Kennaugh however with 3.3km remaining on the final category two ascent to Alpe d’Huez after a brief descent, with 27-year-old Kennaugh able to hold on to take victory by 13 seconds.
Behind, Chris Froome (Team Sky) saw his chances of overall victory slip further away.
With a number of attacks on the final ascent, Froome was unable to stick with race leader Richie Porte (BMC Racing) when he went away with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), losing 25 seconds to the Australian and slipping to 1-02 down on GC.
How it happened
A 17-man breakaway got away early including Kennaugh and Swift, and the peloton seemed content to let the break’s advantage grow.
By the mid-way point of the stage the leading group had 5-10, stretching to a maxiumu of six minutes with BMC setting the pace behind for race leader Porte.
As the breakaway reached the third to final climb, the category two Côte de Garcin with 32km to go, the breakaway had been brought back to around 4-30 with the GC contenders’ teams increasing the pace ahead of the summit finish.
King of the mountains Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) led over the Garcin as he had the previous climbs of the day, but the racing really began in earnest on the road towards Alpe d’Huez, the Col de Sarenne, 15.3km in length at an average gradient of 6.9 per cent.
The 17-man group broke up substantially on the climb, with Kennaugh and Swift moving away from a reduced bunch with 1500 metres remaining to the summit.
Meanwhile, behind Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) attacked a reduced peloton on the slopes of the Sarenne to try and make up some time after losing a large amount of time in the stage five time trial.
He managed to take around 30 seconds on the main peloton as Kennaugh and Swift drifted away up ahead of Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal), Diego Ulissi (UAE-Emirates) and Delio Fernandez (Delko Marseille Provence).
The British pair had 40 seconds on the chasers as the approached the category two version of Alpe d’Huez, a 3.7km climb at 7.2 per cent, with Kennaugh getting away almost immediately on the climb with 3.3km to go.
He was able to hold his advantage over Swift to 13 seconds, and cruised home on the famous summit to take his second career victory at the Dauphiné.
The GC battle didn’t ignite until the riders hit Alpe d’Huez. Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) and Fabio Aru (Astana) were first to try their luck, with the latter and managing to create and hold a gap.
But with 1500m to go the likes of Porte, Fuglsang and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) were able to jump across to Aru and put Froome and Alejandor Valerde (Movistar) in trouble.
Race leader Porte was able to then kick again, and Fuglsang was the only one able to stick with him.
The pair crossed the line together, with Porte increasing his lead over Froome who finished 24 seconds back.
Porte will have one stage to navigate to take the overall victory in the Dauphiné, a 115km stage from Albertville to a summit finish on Plateau de Solaison.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2017 stage seven, Aosta – Alpe d’Huez (167.5km)
1 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky, in 4-43-49
2 Ben Swift (GBr) UAE-Team Emirates, at 13s
3 Jesus Herrada Lopez (Esp) Movistar Team, at 1-11
4 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 1-13
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 1-14
6 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team, at 1-56
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac, at 2-04
9 Alberto Contador (Esp) Trek-Segafredo
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team, at 2-13
Overall classification after stage seven
1 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team, in 25-38-29
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at 1-02
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, at 1-15
4 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:01:41
5 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team, at 1-43
6 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-55
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 2-07
8 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at 2-31
9 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-53
10 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac, at 3-43