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With a magnificent solo ride, Cummings won the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné; Froome responded to the many attacks and won the race overall, with Bardet and Martin rounding out the podium

Photo: RCS Sport - ANSA / Peri - Zennaro














12.06.2016 @ 16:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) confirmed his status as one of the best stage hunters in the peloton by riding to a fantastic solo win in the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné. Having made it into a big break, he went solo on the third climb of the mountainous course and delivered the time trial of his life to claim the victory. Chris Froome (Sky) responded to the many attacks and so won the race overall for the third time in his career while Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r) finished second and third on the stage to gain enough time on Richie Porte to (BMC) to move to third and second in the GC respectively.


For many years, Stephen Cummings was a relatively anonymous domestique at big teams like BMC and Sky. He won a stage at the Vuelta, the Volta ao Algarve and the Tour of Beijing but he didn’t got many personal opportunities.


The Brit didn’t like his role and so moved to the Dimension Data team for the 2015 season. The change has been magical as he has now developed into one of the best stage hunters in the world.


It all started when he won a stage at last year’s Tour de France but it is the 2016 season that has really proved his status. This year he has done three WorldTour stage races – Tirreno-Adriatico, Vuelta al Pais Vasco and Criterium du Dauphiné – and after he claimed a fantastic solo win in today’s final stage of the latter race, he has now won stages in every top level stage race he has done this year!


Unlike in Pais Vasco and Tirreno where he had made late moves for freedom, Cummings attacked from afar as he made it into a big group that escaped after a hectic opening. With no cooperation in the group, he went solo on the third climb and then did a magnificent solo ride to keep up the hard-chasing Etixx-QuickStep team to win the stage by more than four minutes.


While it soon became apparent that Cummings would win the stage, the battle for the GC was on. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) was the big aggressor but Chris Froome responded to everything. In the end, a 12-rider group of favourites sprinted for second place and after Richie Porte was boxed in during the sprint, the podium changed. The Australian lost a few seconds and as Daniel Martin and Romain Bardet finished second and third respectively to pick up bonus seconds, the BMC captain slipped to fourth. Bardet ended the race in second and Martin in third.


After a hectic start, Cummings hit the bottom of the penultimate the climb, the brutally steep Col du Noyer, with an advantage of 5.05 over the peloton which was led by Maxime Bouet and Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep). A chase group was still in between but it was about to be brought back. First the peloton picked up Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) after the Frenchman had been dropped. Jurgen Van den Boeck (Katusha) was also brought back as the gap to the chase group had been whittled down to just 25 seconds.


Bouet and Martin emptied themselves and after the Frenchman had swung off, the German went full gas on the lower slopes. He made the peloton explode to pieces, with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) being the first big name to lose contact. Meanwhile, he picked up the chase group.


With 15km to go, Martin had whittled the group down to Froome, Henao, Landa, Poels, Porte, Contador, Kreuziger, Martin, Martin, Alaphilippe, Rosa, Bardet, Bakelants, Cherel, Yates, De Clercq, Moreno, Navarro, Boasson Hagen, Bauer, Rolland, Bennett, Clement and Meintjes and as he continued to ride on the front, Bakelants, Moreno and Bauer had to surrender. He kept riding on the front and slowly reduced the gap to 4.20.


With 12km to go, the action started when Contador attacked. Rolland tried to join him but the Spaniard opened a gap alone. Further back, the peloton exploded to pieces, with Cherel, Bennett and Boasson Hagen being the first of many riders to surrender.


Martin tried to attack but was passed by the Sky train as Poels slowly reeled Contador in. However, as Landa exploded in third position, Contador and Poels suddenly got a small gap. The Dutchman waited for his captain but Froome passed him with the rest of the favourites in tow.


Behind Contador, a group with Henao, Froome, Navarro, Martin, Porte and Bardet was formed and it was the Colombian who dug deep to try to bring Contador back. When he swung off, Froome accelerated and quickly bridged the gap. Only Porte and Bardet could follow the Brit while Martin was now in lone pursuit.


Contador tried to attack again and when Froome accelerated, the Brit and the Spaniard briefly got a gap. However, the quartet came back together and it was Froome who rode on the front. Meanwhile, Cummings crested the summit.


Contador tried another attack and kept riding on the front but Froome didn’t give him an inch. Instead, it was Bardet who attacked over the top. However, Froome responded immediately and the quartet was still intact as they started the descent with a deficit of 3.10. Martin was 16 seconds behind and was joined by Yates, Meintjes and Rosa on the lower slopes of the descent.


Bardet tried to attack in a flat section but again Froome responded immediately. As the group slowed down, the four chasers approached and this prompted Contador to up the pace. However, he couldn’t keep them at bay and so the two quartets merged. Poels, Landa, Henao and Alaphilippe were not far behind and the Sky riders worked hard to make the junction before they hit the final climb.


Cummings started the ascent with an advantage of 3.45 while Landa set the pace in the chase group. However, he ws not going full gas and so Rolland, Clement and De Clercq could rejoin the group.


As he passed the flamme rouge, Cummings had extended his advantage to more than four minutes and no one could stop the Brit who started to celebrate with 500m to go. The Brit crossed the line after an impressive solo ride to take his third stage victory in his third WorldTour stage race of 2016.


Landa continued to rude on the front but was still riding slowly as Navarro also regained contact. However, the cesaefire was broken when Rolland attacked just before the flamme rouge. However, Landa slowly reeled him in.


Martin launched the sprint and as Bardet, Poels, Yates, Alaphilippe and Rosa gave chase, Porte, Froome and Contador were boxed in behind the slowing Sky riders. Hence, gaps appeared in the finale as Martin held off Bardet and Poels in the battle for second. Porte, Froome and Contador couldn’t make up the lost ground and so lost five seconds and this cost Porte the podium.


Froome defended his lead to take the overall victory but Bardet moved to second, just 12 seconds behind. With the small gap and the bonus seconds, Martin also passed Porte who slipped to fourth. Contador rounded out the top 5.


Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) won the points jersey and Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data) won the mountains jersey for the second year in a row. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) was the best young rider and Sky won the teams classification.


With the Criterium du Dauphiné done and dusted, attention in France turns to Route du Sud which starts on Thursday and is the final Tour de France warm-up for Nairo Quintana. The next WorldTour races are the Tour de Suisse which started yesterday and the Tour de France which kicks off on July 2.


A big mountain stage

After yesterday’s queen stage, there was still one big mountain stage left in the Criterium du Dauphiné. The final 151km brought the riders from Le Pone-de-Claix to Duperdevoluy and included a total of six categorized climbs. Right from the start, there were two climbs and then a long flat section led to a category 4 climb. The main challenges were the steep category 1 climbs of the Col de Moissiere and Col du Noyer, the latter summiting just 11.5km from the finish. An easy descent led to the final climb which averaged just 5.9% over 3.8km.


Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal), Enrico Gasparotto and Björn Thurau (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) – the latter two because of low cortisol levels – stayed all at the hotel this morning while the rest of the field headed out for the last stage under a sunny sky. With a climb immediately from the start, there were attacks from the beginning. First it was Oliver Naesen (IAM) who got a lead of 7 seconds before he was caught and then Jack Haig (Orica-GreenEdge) and Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18) briefly got clear. At the same time, the elimination started as Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin) was the first to be dropped, and then also Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal), Marco Haller, Jacopo Guarnieri, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Zico Waeytens, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r) Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), Marco Minnaard (Wanty), Alex Howes (Cannondale) and Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) lost contact as part of a larger group.


Navarro wins the KOM sprint

Dario Cataldo (Astana) was the next to attack and was joined by Angel Vicioso (Katusha). The latter was replaced by Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), but the offensive was not successful. Instead, Jerome Coppel (IAM) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) escaped and they reached the top as the first with a lead of about 10 seconds. Navarro beat Coppel in the KOM sprint but a counterattack by Huzarski was neutralized in time so that Jesus Herrada (Movistar) could beat Cataldo in the battle for third place.


Herrada, Cataldo and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) were part of a 25-rider chase group that made contact with the front, and thus 27 men had gathered in front. However, it was too dangerous for the peloton that closed the gap of 20 seconds. Then 13 riders got clear on the descent, but the attack was neutralized by Sky.


A big group gets clear

As the peloton approached the next climb, two riders attacked and they were joined by two riders before Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and another two riders also bridged across. At the same time, Navarro suffered a mechanical and strong climbers like Andre Cardoso (Cannondale) and Bauke Mollema (Trek) were among the many to get dropped.


The leading group consisted of Wout Poels (Sky), Robert Kiserlovski (Tinkoff), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Laurens De Plus (Etixx- Quick Step), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale) and Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre- Merida), and they were briefly joined by a rider from Dimension Data before Sky brought them back. De Gendt tried again and was soon joined by 13 riders. Another three riders made it across and when also Teklehaimanot and Gallopin made contact, Robert Kiserlovski (Tinkoff), Jérémy Roy (FDJ), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Ben Gastauer (AG2R - La Mondiale), Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Katusha), Tony Gallopin, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Stephen Cummings, Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), Ryder Hesjedal (Trek - Segafredo), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) Jack Bauer, Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale), Jérôme Coppel (IAM Cycling), Bartosz Huzarski, Paul Voss (Bora - Argon18) and Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre - Merida) had gathered in front. Roy won the KOM sprint ahead of Grmay.


Hesjedal takes off

On the descent, Guillaume Martin (Wanty) closed a gap of 30 seconds before George Bennett (LottoNL - Jumbo), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale) and Marc Soler (Movistar) took off in pursuit. The trio, however, was quickly picked up by the peloton which was 45 seconds behind after the lead briefly had reached 1.10.


There was not much cooperation in the front group so Hesjedal attacked after a first hour that was completed at 37.9km/h. However, he did not get a decisive gap but the dysfunctional group gradually managed to increase its lead to 1.35. In the peloton, six riders from Sky gathered but they were not worried by the break. Meanwhile, the problems continued for Navarro who again had a mechnical.


Etixx-QuickStep take control

With 100km to go, the gap had gone out to 3 minutes, but now took Etixx-QuickStep took control. Stijn Vandenbergh and Niki Terpstra started to chase, and as a consequence the advantage dropped to 1.35 during the next 20km. At the same time Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff), Lilian Calmejane, Tony Hurel, Bryan Nauleau (Direct Energie), Thomas Degand (Wanty), Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal) and Mollema abandoned


The riders covered the first two hours at an average speed of 39.5km/h before the break hit the third climb with a lead of 1.25. Immediately, the peloton exploded as Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), Moreno Hofland, Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM) were among the many to get dropped. Teklehaimanot won the KOM sprint and so took the lead in the mountains competition before Terpstra and Vandenbergh led the peloton to the top 2 minutes later.


Cummings makes his move

Oliveira almost crashed on the technical descent but quickly came back to the front before Gallopin attacked and got a lead of 15 seconds. Cummings joined him, and the front duo started Col de Moissiere with a lead of 20 seconds. Terpstra led the 30-rider field onto the climb with a deficit of 2.20.


While De Gendt and Huzarski were dropped from the chasing group and Terpstra and Fabio Aru (Astana) were left behind by the peloton, Cummings dropped his French companion. Gallopin was also overtaken by Kiserlovski and Grmay and was joined by five riders. They made it back to Kiserlovski and Grmay and thus 8 riders - Robert Kiserlovski (Tinkoff), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Katusha), Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal), Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), Jack Bauer ( Cannondale), Paul Voss (Bora - Argon18) and Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre - Merida) – had gathered 56 seconds behind Cummings. The rest of the break had exploded while Etixx-QuickStep led the peloton.


Cummings extends his advantage

Terpstra abandoned a few kilometers from the top while the peloton caught Hesjedal, De Gendt and Huzarski. At the same time, Grmay tried to make it back to Cummings with a solo move. Further back, a group of 8 riders with Roy and Sicard had gathered.


With 50km to go, Cummings was 1.10 ahead of Grmay and 1.30 ahead of the Gallopin group while the peloton was now 3.30 behind. Laurens De Plus, Tony Martin and Maxime Bouet doing their best for Etixx-QuickStep and he sent several riders out the back door as Clement Chevrier (IAM), Hesjedal, Luke Rowe (Sky) and Vandenbergh were among the many to get dropped.


Etixx-QuickStep lose ground

Gallopin was dropped from the chase group and was picked up by Martin and the pair was not far behind Kiserlovski, Van den Broeck, Teklehaimanot, Voss, Bauer and Lutsenko as they reached the top. Here Teklehaimanot crossed the line in third to add to his KOM points tally. At the top, Cummings was 1.40 ahead of Grmay, 2.20 ahead of the six chasers and 3.55 ahead of the peloton which caught Oliveira and Roy and later also Coppel, Sicard and Gastauer.


Bouet’s, De Plus’ and Martin’s hard work did not pay off as the gap had gone out to 4.05 with 30km to go. Meanwhile, the peloton continued to pick up early escapees, with Impey and Slagter being the next to surrender.


Grmay was caught by the chase group while Gallopin and Martin regained contact and so 9 riders entered the final 25km with a deficit of 2.05 to Cummings. At this point, the peloton had lost even more ground and was now at 4.45. Moments later, De Plus ended his work and it was left to Bouet and Martin to lead the group onto Col du Noyer where the finale started.



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