Sanchez takes a hard-fought win over Fuglsang as Froome remains in the driver's seat with one stage remaining
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Sanchez) won a two-up sprint with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) to take stage 7 of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Saturday.
Chris Froome (Sky) retained the overall lead.
A group of 20 riders escaped shortly after the start of the 187.5km stage from Le Pont-de-Claix to Superdévoluy, which took in the 21 hairpins of L’Alpe d’Huez.
But the break didn’t last, and the last men standing — Sylvain Chavanel and Alessandro de Marchi — were swept up inside the final 16km on the climb of the Col du Noyer.
Sanchez and then Fuglsang attacked approaching the summit, taking a lead of around 20 seconds over the chasing pack, led by Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).
Fuglsang and Sanchez were together going into the final 200 meters, and the Astana rider seemed to be the stronger of the two. But Sanchez dug deep, gave it the gas and hit the line first.
Fuglsang held on for second with Richie Porte (Sky) third at 15 seconds.
It was an emotional win for Sanchez, who dedicated his victory to a departed friend.
“I have been awaiting this win which has eluded me since the beginning of the season,” he said. “I haven’t been able to train in good conditions because of the weather and I haven’t therefore been in the right sort of form.
“This win will allow the team to confront the Tour de France in a serene frame of mind.
“I dedicate this win in memory of Victor Cabedo, my former teammate, who died last year aged 23. Then last week I lost a personal friend. The best tribute I could pay to them was by winning.”
With one stage remaining, a tough 155.5km leg from Sisteron to the ski station at Risoul, Froome leads teammate Porte by 51 seconds, with Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) moving into third at 1:37.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from the Dauphiné.