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MODANE, France — Sky’s Chris Froome won the Critérium du Dauphiné on Sunday after a solo break on the last climb saw him take the eighth and final stage and depose overnight leader Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team).
Froome had gone into the last stage just 18 seconds adrift of the American. But on the final 8.4km climb of the 156.5km stage from Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc to Modane Valfrejus, some 2.6km from the summit, the Sky captain put down the kind of blistering acceleration that has become his trademark, and van Garderen could not match his pace.
“On the final climb, we wanted to make it as difficult as possible for Tejay,” Froome said. “Wout Poels accelerated out of every corner, out of the switchbacks; when it came to the hard ramp at 2.5K to go, I made my move, then it was basically a drag race with myself and Tejay. Mano a mano. I just put my head down an gave it everything I had until the finish.”
He hit the line with an 18-second advantage over van Garderen, who finished fourth on the day, and collected a time bonus that put him atop the overall standings.
In the end, Froome took the title by 10 seconds over van Garderen with Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) third at 1:16.
“I can’t believe it. I couldn’t have expected it to go any better today,” said Froome. “My legs were really tired after yesterday and the whole team was suffering. I don’t know how they did it but everyone lifted themselves with the yellow and blue jersey in sight. They gave everything – Ian Stannard rode alone for almost 100km to control the breakaway and the rest of the team were fantastic up to that moment where I could attack and put pressure on Tejay.
“The Dauphine was a big focus for me, but the Tour de France is the main objective. The team is ready, and I’m almost ready. We’re less than three weeks away now and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Dauphiné is seen as a warm-up for the Tour de France, and Froome won here in 2013 before going on to win the world’s most famous stage race.
Van Garderen conceded he was disappointed to lose the race on the last stage, but added that his Tour preparation was going well.
“Every race you go to you want to shoot for the top,” he said. “I am certainly happy with second place and I am really happy with how I am stacking up to all of my Tour rivals. I think it is a good sign for July.
“But right now it is hurting a little bit. But sometimes that is a good thing.”