Australian Richie Porte of BMC Racing Team took the Criterium du Dauphine leader’s yellow jersey after Friday’s sixth stage won by Astana’s Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang.
Fuglsang, Porte and overall favorite Chris Froome came through the line in a photo finish after the descent of the beyond-category Mont du Chat at the end of the 147.5km stage.
“This is my first WorldTour win and I thought I’d come second,” Fuglsang said after the race. “Thankfully there was wind right at the end and that stopped Porte getting ahead.”
Former teammates Porte and Froome built up a healthy lead on their rivals — Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde and Romain Bardet — on the mountain’s punishing 8.7km climb at a more than 10 percent gradient.
“The objective here is to win the race,” Porte said. “So when I heard Contador and Valverde had been dropped, I picked up the tempo.”
Defending champion Froome was happy to test his legs on the grueling Mont du Chat climb, which is also to feature on the Tour de France.
“I still have work to do, but things are going in the right direction. The climb today showed I’m on the right track for July,” the three-time Tour de France winner said.
However, the Sky rider was less than satisfied with his position after Friday’s stage.
“I’d be lying if I said I was satisfied with my place,” Froome said. “I wanted to win the stage, but I made mistakes. I did a little too much work to catch Fuglsang and I launched the sprint too far out.”
“But altogether I’m happy with the way things went. It could have been worse. My legs are good and I’m happy to have been with Richie [Porte], who is in great form,” he added.
Contador was happy with the attack.
“I’m not on form yet, so the more they attack me the better,” Contador said. “I couldn’t make the necessary explosive change of pace to keep up on the climb.”
“I almost fell on the way down, too, so I also lost Valverde’s wheel,” he added.
Fuglsang, a silver medalist in the road race event at last year’s Rio Olympics, stayed with the high-profile duo for the technical descent and was adjudged victor at La Motte-Servolex.
Porte now enjoys a 39-second lead over Froome in the general standings, with Fuglsang at 1 minute, 15 seconds.
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