Padun leaves his mark, Porte opens gaps
June 5 th 2021 - 15:06
Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious) proved to be the strongest on the climb to La Plagne, where he won stage 7 of the 73rd Critérium du Dauphiné. The young Ukrainian climber followed an acceleration from Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) with 8.5km to go and went solo in the last 5km to claim his first WorldTour success. The Australian veteran finished 2nd of the stage to take the yellow and blue jersey on the eve of the final stage to Les Gets. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) now trails by 17’’ while Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) moved up to 6th overall (+38’’).
Porte is in prime position but he’s already led the race after the penultimate stage, in 2017… And it wasn’t enough to take the overall victory after all. Let’s see if he can take his revenge with a gruelling mountain stage ahead.
The mountainous challenges of stage 7 motivate the attackers. There are 135 riders left in the race with the abandon of Andrey Zeits (Team BikeExchange) and many of them try to jump ahead of the bunch as soon as the flag is dropped.
Huge battle for the break
It takes 67km of battle for a group to finally open a gap. Alexis Renard (Israel Start-Up Nation), Marco Haller (Bahrain Victorious), Martin Salmon (Team DSM), Pierre Rolland and Franck Bonnamour (B&B p/b KTM) are 1’40’’ ahead of the peloton as they reach the bottom of the first climb of the day, Côte de Venthon (summit at km 81.2).
The battle keeps going and Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal) is determined to be part of the breakaway to defend his polka-dot jersey. Nine riders join him in pursuit: Michael Valgren, Lawson Craddock (EF Nippo), Warren Barguil (Arkéa Samsic), Steff Cras (Lotto Soudal), Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Martijn Tusveld (Team DSM). Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Jorge Arcas (Movistar).
The battle goes on…
The chasers trail by 30’’ at the bottom of the Col de Pré (12.6km at 7.7%). The gap to the bunch is up to 3’10’’. It even increases to 3’40’’ on the climb, with a hard battle at the front, and Movistar decide to take over from Astana-Premier Tech in the peloton.
A new leading group emerge on the final slopes and Lawson Craddock takes 15 KOM points at the summit ahead of seven companions: Valgren, Tusveld, Rolland, Elissonde, Bjerg, Arcas and Haller. The gap to the bunch slightly decreased on the climb but it’s back up to 3’45’’ at the bottom of the climb to Cormet de Roselend (km 117).
Craddock takes 5 more points at the summit but the gap to the bunch is down to 2’45’’. Haller and Valgren accelerate on the downhill. Tusveld, Arcas and Bjerg join them in Albertville (25km to go). Valgren attacks again just ahead of the final climb to La Plagne: 17.1km with an average gradient of 7.5%. Movistar accelerate in the valley and the gap is down to 1’45’’ at the bottom.
The Danish all-rounder is caught by Rolland and Elissonde on the climb. The two French climbers accelerate with 12km to go but they’re caught 1.5km later, with Carlos Verona setting a high pace for Movistar. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) is already dropped.
Porte opens, Padun concludes
Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) launches the first attack, 8.5km away from the summit. Enric Mas (Movistar), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious) follow his move. And the Ukrainian youngster quicklñy counter-attacks. Only Kuss follows him while Porte and Mas stay together.
Padun drops Kuss with 4.7km to go and open serious gaps to the chasers. Ion Izagirre (Astana-Premier Tech) pulls to try and defend Alexey Lutsenko’s yellow and blue jersey but they can’t react when Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) and Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) join the chasing group.
Porte attacks again inside the last 2km, dropping everyone to claim the yellow and blue jersey on the eve of the final stage to Les Gets. Miguel Angel Lopez finishes 3rd and Alexey Lutsenko crosses the line in 10th position, 26’’ behind Porte.