Sky's Peter Kennaugh cruised to a solo win on stage 7 at Critérium du Dauphiné on Saturday.

L’ALPE D’HUEZ (AFP) — Australian Richie Porte of the BMC team turned the screws on Chris Froome in Saturday’s seventh stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné won by the latter’s Team Sky teammate Peter Kennaugh.

With just one stage to go on Sunday, Porte spurted at the end of a gruelling day’s racing to gain valuable seconds on direct rivals for the overall race victory, putting a further 23 seconds between himself and former teammate Froome, in second at 1:02.

“Being on Alpe d’Huez makes it all the more special,” said Kennaugh after the stage. “Plus, I didn’t even know I was coming to this race a week before. I was at altitude training in preparation for the Tour de Suisse and then three days before the race they said I had to come here because of injury and illness.”

“Now, here I am. It’s funny how the world works sometimes.”

Defending champion Froome, a three-time winner of the Tour de France, couldn’t stick with Porte’s acceleration on the last 2km of the 168km ride from Aosta to the epic Alpe d’Huez climb and summit finish via the Col de Sarenne.

Astana’s Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang, a silver medallist in the road race event at last year’s Rio Olympics, did manage to tail Porte and now stands third in the overall classification, at 1:15.

Stage 7 results, top 10

General classification, top 10

Froome’s Team Sky teammate Kennaugh, who won gold as part of the British team pursuit team at the 2012 Olympics, soloed to the stage win after pulling away from British compatriot Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates) in the final three kilometers.

According to the offical Sky media report, Kennaugh said he and Swift were on the same page heading into the final as they distanced themselves from breakaway companions Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal).

“We didn’t speak much. Over the top of the Col de Serrada we knew because we know each other so well that we’d have good cohesion and could pull away from the other two,” he said.

“Because we know each other so well we don’t really have to talk. Then it was a bit like the nationals – tense. We’re best of mates, but Alpe d’Huez is too big a win to gift either way so it was a fight to the line.”

The British national championships are on Kennaugh and Swift’s home soil this year — the Isle of Man — and he joked: “Tables could turn at the nationals — we’ll have to see.”

Sunday’s eighth and final stage is another testing mountain ride, 115km long over three cols (Saisies, Aravis, Colombiere) before a final climb to the finish line at the Plateau de Solaison, high in the Alps.

“We can’t be complacent,” Porte said. “Tomorrow is a short stage and I expect fireworks. It’s not over until it’s not. We are in a good position and the team is incredibly strong. I’d love to finish this off tomorrow, I’d love to win this race.”

Stage 7 results

General classification