By Nigel Wynn
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) won stage seven of the Criterium du Dauphine on Saturday after attacking the lead group over the day's penultimate climb.
Sanchez's fellow escapee Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) placed second, with Richie Porte (Sky) coming in third.
Race leader Chris Froome (Sky) finished in seventh place to safely retain his position in the race lead. He leads team-mate Porte by 51 seconds, with Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) moving up to third at one minute and 37 seconds.
Day in the mountains
A large escape group of 22 riders formed after 30km as the race headed up and over Alpe d'Huez, and their advantage peaked at around five and a half minutes. By the foot of the day's penultimate climb - Col du Noyer - Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma) and Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) were all that was left of the break, whilst their former companions were mopped up by the Sky-led peloton.
De Marchi dropped Chavanel, and then an acceleration by Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) for team-mate Michael Rogers brought back the Cannondale rider and split the peloton to pieces. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) put in an attack with 1km to go before the top of the Col du Noyer and got a small gap as Contador continued to pace-set.
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) bridged up to Sanchez near the summit, and into the steep descent as the duo worked up a 20-second advantage over the group containing Contador, Rogers, Porte, Froome and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
Fuglsang looked the stronger of the two riders on the final climb, but Sanchez accelerated around him in the final 200 metres to take the win. Porte attacked the chasers in the final kilometre to claim third place with Froome in seventh.
Rogers benefitted from Contador's work, moving up to third overall after former race leader Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) was dropped from the lead group.
Sunday's final stage is a fitting finale to the 2013 race, starting in Sisteron and culminating in a category one climb to Risoul.
Criterium du Dauphine 2013, stage seven: Le Pont-de-Claix to Superdévoluy, 187.5km
1. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi in 5-26-14
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at same time
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 15 secs
4. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 16 secs
5. Stef Clement (Ned) Blanco
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
7. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky
8. Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis
9. Michael Rogers (Aus) Saxo-Tinkoff at same time
10. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxi-Tinkoff at 23 secs
18. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 2-06
21. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky at 2-10
Overall classification after stage seven
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky in 25-00-13
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 51 secs
3. Michael Rogers (Aus) Saxo-Tinkoff at 1-37
4. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 1-47
5. Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis at 1-49
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 2-04
7. Stef Clement (Ned) Blanco at 2-32
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 2-47
9. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 2-48
10. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2-56
18. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 7-31
28. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky at 14-32
Ian Stannard on the front
Jakob Fuglsang and Samuel Sanchez
An eleated Samuel Sanchez takes the stage win
Stage seven photo gallery
Voeckler wins Dauphine stage six as Froome holds on to lead
Dauphine stage six gallery
Chris Froome praises Richie Porte after Dauphine stage win
Chris Froome stamps his authority with win in Dauphine stage five
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