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61st Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré - ProT

France, June 7-14, 2009

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Stage 7 - June 13: Briançon - Saint-François-Longchamp, 157km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer

14:32 CEST   
Welcome back to the penultimate stage here in France, and what a stage it will be. The Queen Stage, with two HC climbs underway and topped off with a Category One mountaintop finish.

14:36 CEST    67km/90km to go
Here's where we are right now: Ludovic Turpin (AG2R) is alone in the lead. Behind him is a group of about 20-30 riders, including Moncoutie, Moinard and Fedrigo. The peloton is about 1:30 back.

14:39 CEST   
What will we see today? Will the favourites all continue to huddle together? Will the Tour riders stay close to one another and let Alejandro Valverde take the win? Or will Cadel Evans or Alberto Contador go for it today, or at least try to? Or will we see another escape come through to the end?

Questions, questions, questions.....

14:45 CEST   
Here is the large chase group: Van den Broeck (SIL), Dyachecnko (AST), Flecha and Garate (Rabobank), Landaluze, Martinez and Nieve (EUS), Arrieta and Nocentini (AG2R), Coppel, Ladagnous, Le Mével and Vaugrenard (FDJ), Pauriol, Moinard, Moncoutie, and Kern (COF), Pineau (QST), Meier (GRM), Fedrigo Lefevre and Trofimov (BBO), Spilak and Marzano (LAM), Mejias (FUJ) and Frank (BMC).

14:46 CEST    82km/75km to go
We have one dropout today, Steven Cozza of Garmin.

14:50 CEST   
The Col du Galibier was the first climb in the stage. The peloton took 8.5 km to climb up, with an average gradient of 6.9% and a maximum of 12.1%.

Unfortunately we have no idea who took the mountain points.

14:53 CEST   
Vaugrenard and Ladagnous have fallen back out of the group, which now has a lead of three minutes over the peloton.

14:56 CEST   
The leaders are now heading up the second climb of the day, the HC-ranked Col de la Croix de Fer.

15:02 CEST   
Time for our usual look at who is leading which ranking. Alejandro Valverde of Caisse d'Epargne is the overall leader, 16 seconds ahead of Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), and 1:04 ahead of Alberto Contador (Astana). The top five is rounded out by Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) and David Millar (Garmin).

15:06 CEST   
Evans has a pretty good lead in the points ranking, with 82 points, ahead of Contador (56) and Valverde (46).

15:10 CEST   
Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox) took over the mountain ranking yesterday with his win, and is now ahead of Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas) and Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step). But will the Frenchman still be wearing that special jersey this evening?

15:14 CEST   
News from the race! There is a gap of 3:20 from the leader to the peloton. Somewhere behind Turpin in the lead is the large group. Ladagnous is 2:20 back and Vaugrenard is at 2:30.

15:18 CEST   
To round out the rankings, Astana leads the team classification, being 3:43 ahead of Rabobank and 5:08 ahead of Liquigas.

15:21 CEST    91km/66km to go
The gap has stabilized at 3:20. More riders are being dropped from the group: Coppel, Spilak and PIneau.

15:24 CEST   
It's a real scorcher today, 30° C at the start. That just makes a tough stage even tougher.

15:28 CEST   
The teams started here with eight riders. Two are down to only five riders, though. Silence-Lotto has lost Mario Aerts, Sebastian Lang and Staf Scheirlinkx. Columbia-Highroad sent only seven riders to the start, and has lost two along the way, Marcel Sieberg and Michael Barry.

15:32 CEST   
We are now told that there is a gap of 1:10 between the leader(s) and the next group. But whether that first one is Turpin or the larger group, and the second one is the larger group or those who have dropped out of it, we just plain don't know.

We do know that the peloton is at 3:50 behind whoever is leading.

15:33 CEST   
We think now that Turpin is in the large leading group.

15:37 CEST   
As we said, it is hot today. Lots of the riders have their jerseys unzipped and flapping away. Why do so many cyclists have hairless chests?

15:38 CEST    106km/51km to go
Everyone is still wending their way up the climb.

15:41 CEST   
We have the next rider to leave the race: Arnaud Coyot of Caisse d'Epargne.

15:43 CEST   
Yesterday's winner Pierrick Federigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) sounded pretty cool about his feat. "I've never won a stage before in the Dauphine, but now I can tick that one off the list."

15:44 CEST    107km/50km to go
Less than a third of the stage left. The leaders are still not at the top of the Col de la Croix de Fer.

15:45 CEST   
The Col de la Croix de Fer (Pass of the Iron Cross) has an altitude of 2067 metres. And yes, it does have an iron cross on the top. The ascent is 29.5km long, with an average gradient of 5.5% and a maximum of 9.5%.

it first appeared in the Tour de France in 1947, and most recently in 2008, when the first rider over was Milram's Peter Velits.

15:46 CEST   
Kern has also fallen out of the lead group and is now back in the peloton.

15:47 CEST    108km/49km to go
The road is getting narrower and narrower as it climbs higher. The gap is down to 3:34.

15:48 CEST   
Valverde is all in yellow, of course: helmet, sunglasses, jersey and shorts.

15:49 CEST   
The field passes a lovely mountain waterfall. One of the riders pours a bottle of water over his head. Doubtless he would rather stand under the tumbling water.

15:50 CEST    109km/48km to go
The peloton is not actually the whole peloton. It looks like maybe 50 to 60 riders.

And the gap continues to fall, now at 3:04.

15:52 CEST   
BBox leads the way up in the leading group. They are hoping to send Fedrigo over the top first, to gather those valuable mountain points.

15:53 CEST   
This is a long, long climb.....

15:55 CEST   
The leading group drags itself up another hairpin curve.

15:56 CEST   
Flecha attacks to try and get the points. Fedrigo goes with him and passes him. Garate follows the Frenchman.

15:57 CEST   
Fedrigo picked up the important points, with Garate second.

15:59 CEST   
Valverde knows that today will be a tough one, and an important one. "It will be really hard, with the Galibier, the Croix de Fer and the final climb to the finish. In such a stage, everything can happen. I can lose the yellow jersey, but I can also increase the gap over my adversaries, who are still the same: Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador, without forgetting Robert Gesink and Mikel Astarloza who are also in a good position."

16:00 CEST    112km/45km to go
A Euskaltel rider has a lead of a few metres on the ascent.

16:01 CEST   
The chasing field now has hit the top of the mountain.

16:01 CEST   
The descending chase group catches two more riders who have dropped out of the lead group. The gap is 3:30.

16:04 CEST   
Caisse d'Epargne leads the descent, with three riders ahead of Valverde.

16:06 CEST   
Contador attacked late in yesterday's stage, but Valverde was able to counter. "Alberto's attack made a tough day in the mountains a little tougher," he said. "But at least I got through ok and I could respond to that move without any problems."

Valverde knew what today would bring. "Tomorrow is the most difficult stage of the entire Dauphine Libere, with three big climbs, and that's probably where the race will be decided."

16:06 CEST   
Contador is right on Valverde's heels. Evans is further back in the group.

Garate leads the head group down the mountain.

16:08 CEST   
Team Rabobank is looking for its climbers to shine today. "Saturday is a famous stage. We expect a lot of it," according to Directeur Sportif Franz Maassen. Robert Gesink and Stef Clement took it a bit easier yesterday in order to concentrate on today's climbs, he indicated.

16:09 CEST    119km/38km to go
The chasing field is spread out single file as it flies down the mountain. The leaders are nearly at the bottom now.

16:13 CEST   
Lars Bak was in yesterday's escape group for Team Saxo Bank. He got dropped near the end but made his way back to the leaders and finished fifth. “Lars is obviously riding this stage where he gets the absolute maximum out of his efforts. He gives everything on the descent and comes up to a bunch of riders who are better in this kind of terrain so I think he did a tremendous stage,” said DS Dan Frost.

But the team's attention today will be on youngster Jakob Fuglsang, who is tenth overall. He had some bad luck yesterday, when he had to click out of his pedal after Haimar Zubeldia crashed in front of him and was then hit from behind by a motorcycle. Frost said, “it would not surprise me if he won the stage tomorrow (today)."

16:14 CEST   
It's too bad that the riders don't have time to look around and enjoy the landscape. Beautiful woods and fields, with stone cliffs every now and then.

16:15 CEST   
Caisse d'Epargne leads the way through a small town, and the patrons of an outdoor cafe look up from their refreshments to applaud.

16:16 CEST   
BMC's Frank is now leading the way down. He has a slight lead over the next rider behind him, 10 metres or so.

16:17 CEST   
There is even a larger gap behind the second rider. The two seem to be pulling away.

16:20 CEST   
The riders won't have much time to catch their breath here. They get to the bottom of the descent only to start climbing again minutes later.

16:21 CEST   
Frank's companion is Nocentini of AG2R. They have a definiite lead over the chasers.

16:23 CEST   
Jurgen Van de Walle thought he would take the victory yesterday, at least until 100 metres to go. That was when he noticed Fedrigo on his rear wheel and then passing him.” I had no more extra punch to keep up with the Frenchman,” he told sporza.be.

16:25 CEST   
The first large group is falling apart, it looks like. Every man for himself!

16:27 CEST   
A Euskaltel rider and a Cofidis rider take off to chase the two leaders, Mieve and Monard. Two more riders join them, Trofimov of Bbox and Flecha of Rabobank.

16:29 CEST    138.6km/18.4km to go
Frank and Nocentini are holding on to their lead. In just a few kms they will start their way up the final climb of the day.

16:30 CEST   
David Millar of Garmin-Slipstream is turning into a mountain climber, and is currently in fifth place overall. "It's a bit of a surprise. I hoped to go well here at the Dauphiné, but I've hoped so many times in the recent past without success" he said.

The secret of his success? Doing nothing. Previously, he said, “I trained too much. This time, between my time at the Giro d'Italia and the start of the Dauphiné, I've done almost nothing. I think this is the best for me: to just rest between the races and race hard."

16:31 CEST   
The two leaders have a lead of 31 seconds.

16:33 CEST   
We end up today on the Saint-Francoise-Longchamp, a Category One climb which is new to racing. The peloton will take 14 km to climb 1100 metres, with an average gradient of nearly eight percent, and a maximum of nine percent. It is better known as a ski resort.

16:34 CEST   
The peloton swoops over a river. Saxo Bank has now joined in the lead work, followed by Caisse d'Epargne, Astana, and Silence-Lotto.

16:34 CEST    143km/14km to go
The gap is falling slightly, now at 3:34.

16:36 CEST   
Saxo Bank, of course, is riding for young Fuglsang, who is currently 10th overall.

16:37 CEST   
The two leaders seem to be on a relatively flat stretch at the moment.

16:38 CEST   
Frank has a visit from his team car.

16:40 CEST    12.7km/144.3km to go
Franks takes off and Nocentini is unable to go with him. The Swiss rider quickly pulls away.

16:40 CEST   
The gap to the main field is now under three minutes.

16:41 CEST   
The leaders are working their way up the final climb now.

16:42 CEST   
Nocentini is caught by the Flecha group, and a handful of riders behind them will join them in a minute. Moinard of Cofidis jumps out to try his luck.

16:43 CEST   
Coincidentally (??) today sees another occasion in St. Francois Longchamp – the laying of the cornerstone of the Bernard Hinault Fitness Center, “ a real complex of leisure and relaxation with pool, sauna, jacuzzi, bowling, panoramic terrace and an outdoor rink for the winter.”

16:43 CEST   
Frank take a bottle of water from a fan and squirts it on his back and bottom.

16:45 CEST    146km/11km to go
Frank is on a steep section. The gap to the peloton continues to fall, only 2:28. Rabobank is now at the front.

16:45 CEST   
The trio of Valverde, Evans and Contador are all riding side by side.

16:46 CEST   
Moncoutie take off in pursuit of Frank, who is only 22 seconds ahead. The chase group of 5 has been caught.

16:47 CEST   
Truly every man for himself as they work their long hard way up this final climb.

16:47 CEST   
Fuglsang attacks out of the field, but has only a lead of a few metres.

16:48 CEST   
No, the field won't let him go.

Moncoutie catches Frank, who is now paying for his efforts.

16:49 CEST   
Evans attacks and passes Fuglsang. Contador and Valverde go with him. The three are now together in a small group with Fuglsang.

16:49 CEST   
Moncoutie has dropped Frank and is now alone in the lead.

16:50 CEST   
Fuglsang moves ahead of the three favourites, who were joined by Efimkin. Efimkin now takes off. A few other riders have now joined the three.

16:51 CEST   
Evans is the only one of the three to have a teammate with him, Matthew Lloyd.

16:52 CEST   
The favourites' group has caught and dropped Flecha. Lloyd pulls the small group up the mountain.

16:52 CEST    148.5km/8.5km to go
Moncoutie looks comfortable in the lead.

16:53 CEST   
The group of favourites are now only 1:33 behind Moncoutie.

16:54 CEST   
Evans talks over his radio to his team car.

16:55 CEST   
There are seven riders in the group, including Efimkin and Gesink, plus a Liquigas rider.

16:57 CEST    150km/7km to go
The group of favourites now approaches two more riders from the former lead group.

16:58 CEST   
Will we see an attack by one of the three top riders? Who will go, if anyone? And how will the other two react?

16:58 CEST   
The yellow jersey is near the rear of the small group.

16:59 CEST   
Moncoutie is up, out of the saddle on his way up the mountain.

17:00 CEST   
Gesink attacks out of the favourites' group.

17:01 CEST   
Evans goes after him and passes him, followed directly by who else, Valverde and Contador.

17:01 CEST   
The three are now joined again by Gesink. Evans leads the group, but Gesink sneaks off to the side and builds up another small lead.

17:02 CEST   
Evans and Co. let the Dutch rider go this time. Gesink passes Frank.

17:02 CEST   
Gesink has a good lead now. The three top riders have again been joined from behind by two other riders.

17:03 CEST    151.5km/5.5km to go
Gesink is now 1:31 behind Moncoutie.

17:04 CEST   
Gesink passes another rider from the former lead group. Evans picks the speed up a notch, but of course his followers go with him.

17:04 CEST   
Evans, Contador, Valverde and Efimkin, all together.

17:05 CEST   
Contador goes, followed by his two not-quite-best friends.

17:05 CEST   
Lots of game playing going on here...

17:05 CEST   
Moncoutie talks to his team car.

17:05 CEST   
Actually he talks to the driver of the team car, not the car itself.

17:06 CEST   
The three top riders go up the mountain practically side by side, accompanied by Efimkin.

17:07 CEST   
Evans goes again with Contador and Valverde giving direct chase.

At least they have dropped Efimkin.

17:07 CEST   
Lots of looking back and forth. Who will go next?

17:08 CEST    153.2km/3.8km to go
1:26 from Moncoute back to the three top riders.

17:09 CEST   
Evans has done most of the lead work here, and looks like he would be happy for his companions to take it over. Efimkin has joined them again.

17:09 CEST   
Van den Broeck is now caught by the three favourites and stays at the front to pull for teammate Evans.

17:10 CEST   
Gesink is now approaching Frank.

17:10 CEST    154km/3km to go
Moncoutie ought to be fairly sure of winning here, but who knows?

17:11 CEST   
Evans has the help of a teammate but Valverde and Contador are clinging fast to him. Efimkin has dropped back again.

17:13 CEST   
The four riders in the chase group are hanging together on their way up.

17:14 CEST    155.2km/1.8km to go
Gesink and Fuglsang are both somewhere between Moncoutie and the group of favourites 1:17 back.

17:14 CEST   
Evans tries again. Directly followed by Contador and Valverde. Evans keeps the speed up to try his best to get ride of his two companions.

17:15 CEST   
The two Spaniards continue to let the Australian do all the lead work.

17:16 CEST   
Evans tries again and has a minl-lead over the other two. But they catch him again. He looks back in frustration.

17:16 CEST    156km/1km to go
Things are calmer up front, as Moncoutie passes under the 1 km marker.

17:17 CEST   
The trio now has Gesink in their sights, as Evans gives it another go, with the same results.

17:17 CEST   
500 metres for Moncoutie.

17:18 CEST   
Moncoutie approaches the finish looking cool and relaxed. He takes one last look back.

17:19 CEST   
He pumps his fast and then raises his arms in triumph as he crosses the finsh line.

17:21 CEST   
Evans sprints for the finish line but Valverde and Gesink do too.

Gesink is second on the stage and Evans third.

Valverde nearly falls off his bike after crossing the finish line, he gave everything in the heat on this hard day.

17:21 CEST   
The riders are still dribbling in, and will continue to do so for quite a while.

17:23 CEST   
No changes in the top of the rankings, but Contador lost 14 seconds on Evans and Valverde.

17:23 CEST   
Millar comes in just over 4 minutes down.

17:24 CEST   
That was it for today! Thanks for joining us and look back again tomorrow for the final stage.


1 David Moncoutié (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne     
2 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank                          
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto                     
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne    
5 Jacob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank                   
General classification after stage 7
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto
3 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana            

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