Adam Yates won the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné consolidating his second place overall on Sunday. The British rider attacked Romain Bardet (Ag2R La Mondiale) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) in the final 200m of the day’s 136km stage, overtaking solo escapee Daniel Navarro in the closing metres to take his second victory of an injury blighted year.
Bardet managed to finish third on the day, while Team Sky’s Thomas was fifth, a 19 second deficit easily enough to maintain his general classification lead and take overall victory.
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The success also ensures Thomas can stake a rightful claim for team leadership should Chris Froome’s outstanding salbutamol case result in his absence from next month’s Tour de France.
How it happened
Another short and sharp day, the 136km stage between Moûtiers and Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc began in frantic fashion, with no break able to escape despite a number of speculative attacks. Thomas’s Team Sky neutralised moves from the likes of Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) and a larger move of 20 riders.
It was only after 31km, on the ascent of the Cormet de Roseland, the first of the day’s five climbs that a group of six escaped off the front.
Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Edward Ravassi (UAE Team Emirates), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac) and Alaphilippe gained an lead of 1.35 as they crested the climb, with Gaudu taking maximum points on of the first category ascent.
Alaphilippe led the breakaway over the next climb, the Côte de la Route des Villes, with the Team Sky headed led peloton letting the gap out to 2.40.
The drama came, however, in the lead up to the third climb, the Col des Saisies, when Thomas, who began the day with an overall lead of 1.29 on Yates, punctured. While he was able to get back to the bunch quickly, a second puncture on the following descent was more problematic as the Ag2r team of third placed Bardet increased the pace at the front.
While first Dylan van Baarle then Michal Kwiatkowski helped the Welshman get back, he was forced to chase alone for some time.
Eventually, with the gap to the leaders still at 1.45, it was only with 30km to go that Thomas was able to get back to his rivals.
The final 15km of the stage contained two climbs, with the Côte des Amerands coming first. Though only 2.7km long, the gradient averaged 11.2% and served as a punishing hors d’oeuvre to the Montée du Bettex, at 7.7% over 7km a tough final.
While they began the first of these closing climbs with a lead in excess one one minute, as the gap began to drop Gaudu attacked the break alone. The Frenchman’s lead never looked solid though, and with six kilometres to go he was caught by two others, including including Navarro, who in turn forged ahead solo, only to have his heart broken by Yates.
Behind him the race’s main protagonists’ group had been whittled down to the bare bones, with Thomas, Bardet and Yates, joined only briefly by Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) and Emmanul Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe). Bardet repeatedly attacked, but was unable to build any sort of lead, and once Yates closed the Frenchman’s final effort late in day, it was the Englishman who was able to go clear.
The stage win tops off an excellent week for Yates, who finished in the top ten of the final five stages in France and will go into the Tour with confidence. It is, however, his British compatriot Thomas whose name will go down in the history books.
Criterium du Dauphiné 2018, stage seven: Moûtiers to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, 136km
1. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton Scott, in 3-51-34
2. Daniel Navarro (Esp) Cofidis, at 4 secs
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 9 secs
4. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 14 secs
5. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 19 secs
6. Daniel Martin (Ire) UAE Team Emirates, at 24 secs
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing, at same time
8. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at, 28 secs
9. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 35 secs
10. Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac, at 41 secs
Final general classification
1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, in 24- 43-12
2. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1-00
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 1-47
4. Dan Martin (Ire) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-35
5. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing, at 2-44
6. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3-05
7. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 4-05
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac, at 4-22
9. Daniel Navarro (Esp) Cofidis, at 4-331
10. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha Alpecin, at 4-45