Bakelants Takes Stage 6 of Dauphine Libere
Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has won Stage 6 of the Dauphine Libere. The Belgian took a two-up sprint from Lieuwe Westra (Astana) to win the rolling, 178.5-km ride from Grenoble to Poisy in 4:07:20. Zdenek Stybar, Bakelants’s teammate, finished third at 0:24, and Chris Froome (Sky) remains the maillot jaune despite crashing in the last 10 km.
After about an hour of racing, the break of the day formed. In it were Julien Simon (Cofidis), Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Westra, Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol), Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling), Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale), Jens Voigt (Trek), Stybar and Bakelants, Thomas Damuseau (Giant-Shimano), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), Bram Tankink (Belkin), and Cesare Benedetti (NetApp-Endura). The gaggle’s lead maxed out at nearly six minutes before Sky began to ride tempo to contain Bakelants, who began the day about seven minutes off of the race lead. Eventually, FDJ.fr and Katusha joined Sky in chipping away at the break’s advantage.
On the day’s penultimate climb, the Category 4 Cote de Marcellaz-Albanais, Ligthart jumped clear and Westra followed. Voigt attempted to bridge up to the move, but failed. The acceleration pulled the break close to the leaders, however, and Bakelants joined Westra and Ligthart. Ligthart was dropped, however, and Bakelants and Westra forged a 20-second lead while Stybar blocked their erstwhile companions for his teammate.
Behind, the peloton went carefully down the descent of the day’s final climb, the Category 4 Cote de Ronzy. With 10 km left, however, Froome crashed and received road rash. His bicycle was damaged, and he needed a new bike, but teammate Geraint Thomas waited for him and the peloton called a truce to allow the maillot jaune to get back on.
Westra tried a number of attacks to shed himself of Bakelants. The Belgian led the Dutchman into the last km, but Westra started the sprint with 250 m to go. Bakelants passed him along the right-hand barriers for the win.
"In the final meters, we launched the sprint and I passed on the right side between him and the fences," Bakelants said. "I had good speed, and I was able to pass him. When I crossed the line I was really over the moon. I have to say that my legs today were really good. Every day here at Dauphine I'm improving. It's a good sign the condition is definitely there! It's my first victory after GP Wallonie in 2013. This year I was already close to victory. It's like that in cycling, though. To win you have to try over and over again, and sooner or later the victory will arrive. I think I did well for the first part of the season. I helped my teammates with great pleasure in several races, and I played my cards when I had the occasion. That's perfect for me! This victory in any case gives another dimension to my season so far. I'm very happy, and I'm looking forward to the next appointments."
In the overall, Froome leads Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) by 0:12. Stage 7 will be a standing shaker. The 160-km ride from Ville-la-Grand to Finhaut-Emosson will end with two consecutive hors categorie climbs. The ascent to the finish will see a battle for the yellow jersey. Who will win it? Froome? Contador? Kelderman? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!