Lutsenko battles to stay on the podium at Criterium du Dauphine
A gutsy ride from Alexey Lutsenko on Criterium du Dauphine stage seven saw the race leader fight hard to keep his yellow jersey, crossing the line in tenth place to move into second on the General Classification.
After a brilliant display of teamwork on the summit finish to La Plagne, Ion Izagirre sits in seventh overall with the race still wide open with one stage remaining.
“Today was a really hard mountain stage. The team did amazing work today and especially Ion did great work for me in the last 10 kilometres. When I look around and see all of the big GC riders who are here, big champions like Thomas and Porte, I know how hard it is. I gave everything I could today and in the end, just missed 20 or so seconds. Tomorrow is the last stage and I will give my maximum for the GC. To finish on the podium would be a great result for me and for the team so I will do everything I can. But I am happy with the way I have raced here so far. My legs are good and it’s a good sign ahead of the Tour de France,” said Lutsenko.
With four climbs on the menu, it was a battle to make the breakaway with attack after attack pulled back as the peloton set a blistering pace until a group finally managed to get away after 70 kilometres of racing.
Lutsenko and Izagirre’s teammates took responsibility for the chase with the blue train lined out at the front of the bunch on the early climbs. The breakaway started to fracture in the last 50 kilometres and at the base of the 17-kilometre final climb, the General Classification group was less than two minutes behind.
The key attacks came from the GC group inside the final eight kilometres when four riders made a move on the steep ascent. Lutsenko responded to various counter attacks and Izagirre dug deep to pace the chase group behind and limit time loss as much as possible.
In the end, it was Mark Padun who claimed the stage while Richie Porte’s attack saw the Australian move into the race lead. Lutsenko battled to the line, finishing 26 seconds after Porte, to move into second overall with 17 seconds separating the two ahead of the eighth and final stage.
After working hard on the climb, Izagirre was able to fight back to finish just 13 seconds behind Lutsenko which sees him trail Porte by 38 seconds overall.
Stage 8 sees the peloton tackle six categorized climbs before an uphill finish in Les Gets to crown the winner of the Criterium du Dauphine.
Criterium du Dauphine
Stage 7: Saint-Martin-Le-Vinoux > La Plagne (171.1km)
Top 3: 1. Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious), 2. Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers), 3. MigUel Angel Lopez (Movistar Team)
Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 10. Alexey Lutsenko, 16. Ion Izagirre, 66. Oscar Rodriguez