Chris Froome stands firm at Criterium du Dauphine to retain race lead
Last Updated: 09/06/13 2:16pm
Richie Porte and Chris Froome: Finished well at the Dauphine
Chris Froome and Richie Porte finished the penultimate stage of the Criterium du Dauphine strongly to solidify their 1-2 at the top of the standings.
The Team Sky duo once again benefited from an immense display of teamwork during the day to finish comfortably in an elite front group at Superdevoluy.
Porte unleashed a late attack as he headed under the flamme rouge, crossing the line third, one second ahead of a group containing the yellow and blue jersey of Froome - who himself took seventh.
The end result sees Froome take a 51-second lead into Sunday's final stage, with Porte opening out more time over his nearest challenger. The first non-Team Sky rider, Michael Rogers, sits one minute and 37 seconds back on Froome.
The closing kilometres saw the rare sight of Rogers' Team Saxo-Tinkoff team-mate Alberto Contador setting the pace on the front of the bunch, yet it was Spaniard Samuel Sanchez who would take the spoils at the finish.
The Euskaltel Euskadi man attacked on the penultimate climb of the Col du Noyer, holding a slender advantage over the top before being joined by Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) on the descent - the Dane also staying clear to finish second.
Nine riders gave chase ahead of the final rise to the finish but, with his GC position looking secure for the day, Froome was never under pressure on the run for home. Numbers to the fore allowed Team Sky to open out their team classification advantage to 2:27.
The biggest mountain test of the race thus far, the penultimate stage saw the riders tackle five categorised climbs over 187.5km, starting with the infamous Alpe d'Huez.
22 riders broke clear as the race left Le Pont-de-Claix, with Team Sky setting about pegging the gap as the peloton tackled the famous hairpin turns, cresting 'l'Alpe' after just 51km of racing.
The sizeable break began to thin out on the Col d'Ornon, the gap holding at around four minutes as Team Sky rallied around Froome - Ian Stannard and Edvald Boasson Hagen doing much of the work on the front.
On the approach to the Col du Noyer, Katusha moved to the head of affairs briefly before Geraint Thomas and Vasil Kiryienka took it up again for Team Sky. In the break two men - Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) - forged on ahead but would not last the climb.
With 15km to go Alejando Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) were the first big names to attack but were quickly absorbed, with Thomas equal to the task before he and Pete Kennaugh dropped off.
The prestigious stage race concludes with another summit finish on Sunday and a 155.5km run to Risoul.