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60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré - ProT

France, June 8-15, 2008

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Stage 7 - June 15: Saint-Jean-de Maurienne - Grenoble, 128km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake

Salut and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage from the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré – one final time this year. The stage into Grenoble is again short, with 128 kilometres, but has several mountains that will prevent Valverde from doing the usual champagne lull on the final stage. Evans and Leipheimer will be looking to attack the Spaniard one last time.

15:31 CEST    76km/52km to go
We have the following situation with more than 50 kilometres to go: A group of seven is at the front, with Stéphane Augé (Cofidis), Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux), Daniele Righi (Lampre), Iouri Trofimov (Bouygues Telecom), Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step) and Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole).

Three and a half minutes behind is a group of four, with Yaroslav Popovych (Silence-Lotto), Pierre Rolland (Crédit Agricole), Maxime Monfort (Cofidis) and Matteo Carrara (Quick Step).

And the peloton is another 30 seconds behind.

15:37 CEST   
The movs and novs – Fofonov and Trofimov – have accelerated from the front group just before they get over the top of the penultimate climb, the col du Granier. Trofimov is still looking to get enough points for the climber's jersey, but Fofonov, who is trying to prevent Trofimov from stealing the jersey of his team-mate's shoulders (Pierre Rolland).

15:39 CEST   
The groups have splintered. Rolland with his red jersey and the white dots on it is now together with Wegelius. But they aren't too far ahead of the peloton, maybe 45 seconds. Casar, Carrara and Chavanel are the others in that group.

15:43 CEST    86km/42km to go
Of course the riders would wish this to be the penultimate climb. Unfortunately, now that they have passed the Granier, there is still the Goucheron (cat 1) and the Col de la Porte (cat 2)

15:47 CEST   
Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step), Daniele Righi (Lampre) and Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) have caught up again with the front duo. However, it's a constant jumping and Trofimov tries again and again to get away.

15:52 CEST    89km/39km to go
Even though Trofimov trails Rolland by more than 40 points, there are plenty of polka dots to distribute today.

Fofonov , Trofimov and Riblon have dropped the others again.

The peloton is led by Caisse of course. For now it looks steady in the front, as the riders make their way towards the penultimate climb on an overcast day in France.

15:56 CEST    92km/36km to go
Van De Walle has made it back again to the front group. It will be some nervous riding until the top.

Everybody is on the climb already. The three difficulties of the day come one after the other. There is practically now flat part anymore until the finish. But the finish is in Grenoble, after a descent, so the non-pure climbers can have some hope to get back, as long as they don't lose too much time on the col de la Porte.

15:57 CEST   
Righi is back, too. He can only hope that the pace will stay steadier than it has until now in the front group.

The climb is another one that goes up in a forested area. There is a steep embankment on the side, with wild flowers offering something for the eye.

16:00 CEST   
One of the FdJ riders is out of the front group. It is Chavanel. Casar is still there and in fact doing most of the pulling. The peloton keeps losing time, it is already five minutes behind.

16:02 CEST    96km/32km to go
Stéphane Augé is trying to get back to the Wegelius group. But it will be hard. This group is still two and a half minutes behind the front. For Rolland, it would be great to get back at least before the last climb, so he can recover some points.

16:03 CEST   

Current race situation

  • Iouri Trofimov (Bouygues Telecom), Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step), Daniele Righi (Lampre) and Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale)
  • Matteo Carrara (Quick Step), Pierre Rolland (Crédit Agricole), Charles Wegelius (Liquigas) and Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) at 2.33
  • Stéphane Augé (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 5.00

16:03 CEST   
Attack by Monfort!!!

The Belgian is ninth on GC and is hoping to move up.

16:05 CEST   
We see many campers on the side of the road, as we are getting closer to the summit. The front group is calling it a truce for now, while Van Der Walle gets some instructions from the Quick Step car.

16:06 CEST   
Fofonov gets over the top ahead of Trofimov. The latter didn't put up much of a fight. He may be resigned to not getting into the lead. Rolland will also rack up a few points, if he gets over the top in first in his group.

16:06 CEST   
And Rolland promptly attacks!

16:07 CEST   
A few hundred metres from the top he dropped the others, and crested over the top a good two minutes behind the front group.

16:08 CEST   
Now, Rolland will wait for the others and hope they can get back to the front group.

16:10 CEST   
The peloton goes over the top of the Gucheron four minutes behind the front group, so they made up a minute fairly quickly.

16:12 CEST    101km/27km to go
Monfort has been caught under the acceleration of Caisse. So the favourites are all together, as they hit the descent at 80km/h. The road looks in good condition.

16:13 CEST   
The locals in S.Pierre de Chartreuse have come out out cheer the riders on. They gather at the church and see the break go by at high speed.

16:15 CEST   
Trofimov won't give up. A small rise and he is immediately at attacking again! But the others are watchful. Van de Walle looks a bit tired, though, from the constant change of speed.

16:16 CEST   
Now it is Riblon who goes! But he again is brought back. Everybody gets back. Van de Walle sits on the back, and lets his head hang. He could really do without the attacks.

16:19 CEST    103km/25km to go
In the second group it is still Casar who does all the pulling. Behind, Augé is finally brought back by the peloton. All groups are now in the final climb of the day.

16:21 CEST   
Trofimov tries again. And who goes after him? Van de Walle!!! Surprisingly, Fofonov does not seem to have an answer for that.

16:22 CEST   
There, Fofonov moves up. He gets to Van de Walle's wheel. But the Belgian is not getting any closer to Trofimov.

16:23 CEST    105km/23km to go
AG2R is realising that Riblon can't contend for victory and help out with the chase of the peloton now. Goubert is pulling ahead of Caisse.

16:26 CEST   
The main field is now stretching out, as AG2R keeps the pressure up. As they ride up the switchbacks, riders slowly drift off the back of the group.

16:27 CEST   
Trofimov is still ahead on the front. He will now be looking to get the stage win.

Carrara has attacked the Wegelius group! Every man for himself now.

16:29 CEST   
Rhône - Alpes region. If the riders have forgotten, the signs placed frequently on the side of the road will remind them.

Goubert is still helping out Caisse.

16:31 CEST    108km/20km to go
Based on the number of campers we should be at the top fairly soon, where the lone leader Trofimov heads toward a great stage win. Van de Walle and Fofonov are chasing behind, but have no info on the gap right now.

16:32 CEST    109km/19km to go
There a lot of people at the top. Trofimov rides past them and the restaurant at the left. He zips up the jersey for the descent.

16:32 CEST   
The two chasers behind are 21 seconds back. Can they return on the descent?

16:34 CEST   
Righi is back about a minute. Rolland sprints for the mountain points, a minute and a half later. He has done enough to secure the polka dot for the 2008 Dauphine!

16:35 CEST   
There are no attacks in the peloton. The pace is very high, though, with many out of the saddle.

16:37 CEST    113km/15km to go
The peloton passes the top together.

In the descent Trofimov goes all out. He passes a construction zone (the light is red...). This may be the last hazard of the day for the peloton.

16:37 CEST   
The last climb was simply not tough enough for a decisive attack. The peloton hits the climb together and all Valverde has to do is stay upright.

16:39 CEST   
Trofimov has the work cut out for him. Van de Walle and Fofonov are not losing time and may get back for a sprint.

16:39 CEST   
The peloton passes Le Sappey en Chartreuse. Will they get safely through the construction zone?

16:41 CEST    117km/11km to go
And there it's over for Trofimov! Fofonov and Van de Walle have caught up with the Bouygues rider.

16:42 CEST   
Riblon is 30 secs behind the leaders, hoping to get back. But he is by himself and it will be extremely hard for him. It looks we will see a three-up sprint.

16:43 CEST   
The peloton was riding some sections at 100km/h. The speed limit in the small French villages they pass is 50km/h. And with the construction zones, it could be slightly dangerous, but so far so good.

16:45 CEST    121km/7km to go
The front riders are three and a half minutes ahead of the peloton, as they master the last switchbacks of the descent. Overall, the downhill is not too technical, with the corners wide enough to allow for safe riding.

The field passes the 10km to go sign, so they trail by about three kilometres.

16:46 CEST   
The three in the front switch the lead well still. This will change in a minute, when the tactical part of the sprint starts.

16:47 CEST   
In fact, Van de Walle already sits on. He looked tired early, but with a possible stage win, he is probably rejuvenated.

16:48 CEST    123km/5km to go
The three riders in front may become six soon, as the others behind have joined forces. In fact, now the front three start to slow down and look at each other. The other two don't want to take Van de Walle to the line.

16:50 CEST   
The high speed descent has caused a small gap in the peloton. Valverde and Evans are on the front.

16:51 CEST    125km/3km to go
The nofs and mofs are pulling hard again, with VdW still sitting on.

16:51 CEST   
The peloton is back together now that the road straightens out again.

16:52 CEST   
VdW is hoping that Carrara is making it back to the front. That would give them two Quick Steps. Carrara is ten seconds back.

16:53 CEST    127km/1km to go
But the front is already passing the flamme rouge. 10 secs may be too much.

16:53 CEST   
Of course now the tactical part of the sprint starts in earnest and if they wait too long then Carrara can come back

16:54 CEST   
But Fofonov starts the sprint!

16:54 CEST   
VdW gets in his slipstream

16:55 CEST   
Trofimov looks spent, can he come back? 50m to go!

16:55 CEST   
No, Fofonov holds on!!! He lifts his right arm to celebrate!

16:56 CEST   
Van de Walle stays in second, while Trofimov gets third.

16:57 CEST   
The peloton comes in 2'20 later. All the favourites are on the front. There was another cut and many CSC riders lead the second part of the peloton over the line ten seconds later.

17:06 CEST   
So Fofonov wins the stage, Valverde the overall. Rolland took the polka dot jersey and thanked his team-mate. "Fofonov was great today. And he won the stage, too." Rolland said "I was a bit afraid today." But he managed to withstand the pressure. Asked if he has regrets that he won't be at the Tour this year, the 21 year-old said "No. If I have a career like Moreau I still have 14 Tours ahead of me..."

Carrara moved up into 10th place with his great ride today, relegating Michael Rogers outside the top 10.

17:08 CEST   
Thanks for joining us at Cyclingnews live coverage of the Dauphiné Libéré. Next up is the Tour de Suisse, where we will bring you the live action starting with stage 5 on June 18, at 15:30 CEST.

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