61st Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré - ProT
France, June 7-14, 2009
Results & report
Stage 8 - June 14: Faverges - Grenoble, 146km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer
Welcome back to the final stage of this year's Dauphine Libere, one of the final warm-up races for the Tour de France. Today's stage feature three ranked climbs, including the Category One St. Bernard-du-Touvet only 27 km from the finish.
15:04 CEST 72km/74km to go
Here's the current situation: Columbia's Bert Grabsch is alone in the lead, 2:40 ahead of a large group, which is in turn 1:05 ahead of the peloton. The World time trial champion jumped out of the lead group at km 48, and has taken the points at the second climb, the Col du Frene.
It's another scorcher today, sunny and already 32° C. The attacks started almost immediately after the start. A group of 14 riders got away by km 6, and by km 10 it had grown to 29 riders.
And here is the composition of that large group: Gutierrez, Pereiro, Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne), Clement (Rabobank), Anton, Isasi (Euskaltel), Dupont (AG2R), Joly, Geslin (Française des Jeux), Augé (Cofidis), Velo, Wynants (Quick Step), Gautier, Bonnet (Bbox Bouygues), Kux, Velits (Milram), Righi (Lampre), Grabsch, Hansen, Rabon (Team Columbia), Trussov (Katusha), Kuschinski (Liquigas), Intxausti (FujI Servetto), Bookwalter, Moos (BMC), Van Goolen (Saxo Bank), Dugan (Garmin) and Diachenko (Astana).
15:12 CEST 84km/62km to go
Grabsch has built his lead up to three minutes over the chase group.
Can we expect an attack today from Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) to take over from leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)? The Australian is only 16 seconds down.
Caisse d'Epargne and Columbia-Highroad have the advantage in the group, with each team having three riders there. However, that may backfire Caisse d'Epargne. Will Cadel Evans take advantage of Verde's reduced number of helpers to successfully attack?
15:23 CEST 99km/47km to go
Grabsch is now 2:10 ahead of the chasers and 5:40 ahead of the peloton.
Valverde called yesterday's queen stage “the most important stage of the race.” He noted that “Evans must have attacked 15 times on the final climb, each time he went all out, but I could follow him each time.”
“I think my team should be able to control Evans even if he attacks again. We should be able to handle it,” he said.
Bert Grabsch can look at these remaining 30-something kms as an individual time trial, his speciality. A success today would certainly help him in the consideration of Columbia's Tour de France squad. The question, of course, is how well he will come over the category one mountain.
15:32 CEST 110km/36km to go
Grabsch starts his way up the St. Bernard du Touvet.
Grabsch is a 33-year-old German who turned pro in 1998 with Agro-Adler-Brandenburg, and rode for Team Cologne in 1999 and 2000. He was with Phonak from 2001 to 2006 before joining T-Mobile in 2007. He has ridden the Tour de France three times, with Phonak. Last year he won a stage in the Tour of Austria, and a stage and the overall title at the Sachsen Tour. He has been German time trial champ for the last two years and won the World TT title last September.
His older brother Ralf is a former pro who is now a Directeur Sportif with Team Milram.
Today's big climb is the St. Bernaard du Touvet. topping out at km. 119. It is pretty steep, with gradients in the eight to ten percent range.
The chase group starts up the climb now, 1:10 behind Grabsch. The peloton is at 4:02.
Peter Velits of Milram leads the chase, followed by Rabon of Columbia. The group catches Grabsch
Three riders take off, Hansen and Rabon of Columbia and a third rider.
15:40 CEST 114.5km/31.5km to go
Hansen is now alone in the lead.
15:42 CEST 115km/31km to go
Hansen has been joined by Garmin's Timmy Duggan.
Back in the peloton, we see our familiar trio of Evans-Valverde-Contador all together.
The stage win yesterday went to climbing specialist David Moncoutie of Cofidis. “That was also on the toughest mountain stage of the race,” the 34-year-old said. “It’s nice to think that I’m still able to fend off the other top guys and go for the win.”
Milram's Kux has dropped out of the lead group and been caught by the peloton. There is only about two mintues now between the two groups.
Duggan is now alone in the lead, having dropped Hansen.
Silence-Lotto leads the peloton, with Contador directly behind the two Belgian team riders, and Evans and Valverde right on his heels.
The peloton has now caught Grabsch and he falls to the back. This is again not the full peloton, but only some 40-50 men.
Matthew Lloyd is leading the peloton, as he so often did yesterday.
On yesterday's final climb, Evans was the only one of the three favourites to have a teammate at his side, and that was fellow Australian Matthew Lloyd. Lloyd has come back from a fractured sacrum and six broken vertebrae suffered in a crash at the Amstel Gold Race, and hopes that his performance here will be his ticket to the Tour de France.
"I'm a climber and I'm on this team for specific reasons," he said. "I've worked so much to get back, I saw a physio every day. If anyone had any question of me being able to ride the Tour de France, today's stage is my answer.”
15:50 CEST 117km/29km to go
Evans attacks! And naturally he immediaely has Valverde and Contador on his tail.
At least the group has come down to about nine riders now.
Evans goes again, along with his usual companions.
How frustrating must it be, not to be able to get away from the other two.
The group is now five, with Gesink and Nibali.
A Quick Step rider has joined them.
Evans goes again with his train behind him. They catch more riders from the former escape group.
Duggan approaches the top of the climb.
15:56 CEST 118.5km/27.5km to go
It is the same group of five: Valverde, Evans, Contador, Gesink and Nibali.
15:57 CEST 118.8km/27.2km to go
Duggan has a 1:40 lead over the chasers. The favourites have caught more riders from the chase group. Lampre's Marzano takes off. Contador takes over the lead work.
Fedrigo is also in the group now and he moves to the head, hoping to catch as many mountain points as possible.
15:58 CEST 119.6km/26.4km to go
Evans goes again and Valverde goes with him, Contador not far behind. The Australian keeps on going and trying, but he can't shake his followers.
Rabobank's Clement has now joined Duggan at the lead.
A Caisse d'Epargne rider leads the favourites' group, followed directly by Contador, Valverde and Evans.
Valverde reaches over and squeezes Contador's shoulder -- thanking him for his help in constantly preventing Evans from getting away?
Gesink and Nibali are also still with the favourites.
Today's stage (and the whole race, for that matter) ends in Grenoble, sometimes called “the capital of the Alps”. It is surrounded by ski resorts and hosted the 1968 Winter Olympics.
16:05 CEST 123.5km/22.5km to go
Clement and Duggan have a 1:22 lead at the moment.
Two Caisse d'Epargne riders lead their captain. The group has grown again to about 20 riders.
There are now attacks out of the favourites's group, but not from the top three. David Millar was one of them, and that was enough for Caisse d'Epargne to pull him and the others back.
16:08 CEST 126km/20km to go
Nibali and Gesink move to the head of the group as they fly down the descent.
Both Clement and Duggan are time trial specialists, so they may well be able to stay away until the end.
Caisse d'Epargne has things firmly in hand again as they go down the mountain, 1:37 behind the two leaders.
Duggan leads the way down, seeming to take a few more chances than Clement.
Yesterday was a big day for the Professional Continental BMC Racing team, as its Swiss rider Mathias Frank was in the early break and was alone at the front when he was caught again with only 10 km to go. In fact, DS John Lelangue called it “our best day ever in a ProTour race.”
Duggan missed much of last season after an extemely serious crash in the Tour of Georgia. His only race after that was the US time trial championships the end of August, where he finished 13th. The American is 26 years old.
Clement now does the lead work, with their lead at 1:34.
Clement is also 26 years old. The Dutchman is new to Rabobank this year, having ridden previously for Bouygues Telecom for three years.
16:18 CEST 136km/10km to go
10 km and over a minute and a half lead for Clement and Duggan.
Two Caisse d'Epargne riders continue to lead the way, followed by Valverde, Contador and an Astana teammate. Evans is further back in the group.
16:20 CEST 137km/9km to go
The two orange-white-and-blue clad riders in the lead have built their lead up to 1:40. That ought to be enough.
We now have a trio in the lead, as Sebastien Joly of FdJ has moved his way up.
Joly now leads the trio in front.
16:25 CEST 141km/5km to go
Only five km to go and nearly two minutes lead.
Joly is 29, and has been with FdJ since 2006. Previously he rode for Credit Agricole, Jean Delatour and Bonjour.
The lead has now climbed to over two minutes. They are trading off on the lead work.
Evans has moved into the lead of the favourites' group.
Just over one km to go, and Joly takes off. The other two try to go with him but can't do it.
16:29 CEST 145km/1km to go
Joly pulls away as he passes under the one km marker.
The other two haven't given up and Clement closes the gap. All together.
Clement and Duggan sprint it out, but the win goes to the Dutchman who led the chase and the sprint.
Hansen sprints ahead of a Liquigas rider to take the fourth place. There are still a handful of riders from the former escape group underway.
The group of favourites crosses the finish line. Some riders sprint for the line, while the yellow-clad Valverde raises his fist in triumph.
Congratulations all around for Valverde, who takes a cool drink of water.
That was it for the Dauphine this year. Thanks for joining us, and keep an eye out for our further live reports!
1 Stef Clement (Rabobank)
2 Timothy Duggan (Garmin - Slipstream)
3 Sébastien Joly (Française Des Jeux)
Final general classification
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Caisse d'Epargne)
2 Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
3 Alberto Contador (Astana)
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