Thomas Voeckler has claimed his first stage win in seven participations to the Criterium du Dauphiné. He took advantage of a breakaway formed at half way into the race while climbing the col du Barioz. It came down to a four-man sprint in Grenoble. The popular Frenchman proved himself to being the fastest even against two riders from Astana, Kevin Seeldrayers and Egor Silin who failed to attack in the finale while Omega Pharma-Quick Step couldn't bring green jersey wearer Gianni Meersman back to the front. Chris Froome remains a solid leader ahead of the last two days in the mountains.
A Tour de France like start: at 50km/h!
From the gun, Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ) showed the ambition of many riders to break away early but attacks were forbidden by the peloton until the hot spot sprint of Albertville (km 22) where Gianni Meersman (OPQ) consolidated his green jersey. As soon as he crossed the line in second position after finishing his job as a lead out man, Chavanel continued his effort and generated an escape of six riders with Thomas Rohregger (RLT), Jérôme Coppel (COF), Pierre Rolland (EUC), Sébastien Duret (BSE) and Jan Barta (TNE). But the peloton reacted. The high speed made it hard for Warren Barguil (ARG) to come across after injuring his shoulder in a crash at km 13. 50.4 kilometres were covered in the first hour!
Voeckler makes Europcar work on time
At km 46, Assan Bazayev (AST), Juan Antonio Flecha (VCD) and Bartosz Huzarski (TNE) managed to go clear. Europcar took the responsibilities at the head of the peloton as their charismatic leader Thomas Voeckler had the intention to try and win the stage in Grenoble. The Frenchman rejoined Flecha who stayed away on his own in the ascent to the first category col du Barioz. In the hill, a front group of eight riders was formed: Thomas Voeckler (EUC), Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), Kevin Seeldrayers and Egor Silin (AST), José Herrada (MOV), Thomas De Gendt (VCD), Mikel Nieve (EUS), Tim Wellens (LTB).
The failure of Omega Pharma-Quick Step
The escapees got a maximum lead of 2.50 atop the col des Ayes (km 90.5), the highest ranked of them being Geniez, 18th at 3.41, but the motivation of the sprinters looked too high for the breakaway to succeed. Chavanel was active again in order to close the gap at the service of Meersman. Tony Martin took over while the front group split in two equal parts. Under the action of Herrada, it became a 4-man breakaway with Seeldrayers, Silin and Voeckler. The curvy finale and the excellent cooperation at the head of the race during the last 30 kilometres made it a successful effort by the attackers. Surprisingly, Omega Pharma-Quick Step didn't bridge the gap. They got no help from other teams, except Sky at the very end, as sprinters like Elia Viviani, Thor Hushovd and Nacer Bouhanni couldn't hold the pace of the peloton in the hills of the Belledonne chain.