Thomas bounces back in style
June 3 rd 2021 - 16:13
Only 24 hours after a disappointing ITT, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) surprised everyone to snatch the stage win millimetres ahead of Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious). The Italian sprinter claims his third place of 2nd in five stages, ahead of Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech). The peloton celebrated the World Bicycle Day with a full-on battle from the start. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), 3rd overall, attacked as soon as the flag dropped and the pace was relentless until the finish in Saint-Vallier, where Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) held on to the yellow and blue jersey 1’’ ahead of Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech).
Geraint Thomas claims his first victory in France since the 2018 Tour and moves up to 6th place in the general classification ahead of the three mountain stages capping off this 73rd edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
The 141-man peloton leaving Saint-Chamond are in for a demanding start and a full-on battle from km 0. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), 3rd overall with very consistent results in the first four stages (8th, 4th, 10th and 3rd), wants more: he is the first rider attacking from the bunch, ahead of the cat-3 Côte du Planil.
Asgreen threatens the yellow and blue jersey
The Danish winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen is caught by the bunch, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) sets off to take the 2 KOM points at the summit (km 9.8) and the battle for the break goes on until five attackers get together at km 20: Tim Wellens, Kasper Asgreen, Tsgabu Grmay (BikeExchange), Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) and Cyril Gautier (Bora-Hansgrohe).
With Asgreen threatening the yellow and blue jersey, Lukas Pöstlberger’s Bora-Hansgrohe control the gap around 1’40’’ in the first part of the stage. It’s still enough for Asgreen to grab 3 bonus seconds in the intermediate sprint (km 52.4) but the peloton up the tempo and quickly bring the gap down under one minute.
Trek-Segafredo and Bahrain Victorious get in the mix
Trek-Segafredo enjoy the opportunity to send more men at the front: Jasper Stuyven attacks with Ryan Mullen. Josef Cerny (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) follows their move and the three chasers join the five leaders at km 68. With that support and with a crash in the bunch involving the white jersey Ilan Van Wilder, the gap reaches a maximum of 1’55’’ at the bottom of the third categorised climb of the day, Côte de la Sizeranne (km 94).
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) sends a teammate at the front to help control the break. The leading group split just ahead of the last 60km. Josef Cerny and Ryan Mullen drop their companions, who don’t work well together and are caught by the bunch with 51km to go. Cerny is the last rider to be reeled in, 43km away from the finish, as Ineos Grenadiers up the ante on wind-exposed roads.
Bystrom and Craddock try, Thomas succeeds
Tension still runs high but the pace slightly drops and Sven Eryk Bystrom (UAE Team Emirates) attacks with 36km to go. He opens a 1’10’’ lead before Bahrain Victorious react. The Norwegian attacker still holds a 55’’ advantage atop the cat-3 Col de Barbe Bleue.
Bystrom is reeled in at the bottom of the last climb of the day, the super steep Côte de Montrebut (1.3km at 12%). Kwiatkowski sets the pace and Lawson Craddock (EF Nippo) accelerates. At the summit (12km to go), he is 10’’ ahead of Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) and the peloton is right behind the French puncheur.
Dylan Teuns gives his all for Colbrelli and Craddock is caught with 2.2km to go. But nobody can react to the acceleration from Geraint Thomas in a tight curve with 1km to go. Colbrelli produces an impressive sprint but Thomas holds on to a very narrow lead. The 10 bonus seconds on the line also allow him to move to 6th place overall, 14’’ behind the leader Lukas Pöstlberger.