MORZINE, France (VN) — Sky used its strength and numbers to secure the Critérium du Dauphiné stage today and possibly the overall victory with Brad Wiggins.
“That was the hardest stage on paper, so it was nice to go over the Joux-Plane with such a small group,” Wiggins said in a press conference. “To have three teammates with me was nice. … The guys did their job on the Joux-Plane, so it was perfect.”
Wiggins is one short, mountainous stage away from repeating last year’s win in the Dauphiné. It follows an impressive year that includes a medal in the worlds time trial, third in the Vuelta a España, and overall wins in Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie this season.
The way he controlled the stage today left little room for imagination. Edvald Boasson Hagen controlled on the early slopes of the climbs and Richie Porte took over later. Chris Froome and Mick Rogers floated around their captain as a safety measure.
Behind them, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) slipped off the pace. Rogers moved into second overall on the road and Evans, who was without helpers, into third.
Evans, outnumbered four to one, tried to break Sky’s stronghold. He attacked near the top of Joux-Plane, with 50 meters remaining and ahead of a false flat. Sky pulled him back, but he went again on the 12km descent to Morzine. By the finish, he’d gained eight seconds to move with 16 seconds of Rogers and 1:36 of Wiggins.
“They rode a strong rhythm on the climb, compliments to Team Sky. Even just with the wind and conditions alone, it’s difficult to attack on the Joux-Plane, but with the speed they do, it pretty much nullified the attacks,” Evans said.
He added of his attack: “You have to try these things some times. Here in the Dauphiné, I don’t have a lot to lose.”
Wiggins said he knew Evans “would do something at some point.”
“He never gives up, Cadel. He always fights to the line,” Wiggins said. “We were willing to give him 15 to 20 seconds if it was to be that at the finish. It would’ve been different if he attacked on the climb. Certainly, on the descent, with one day to go, it wasn’t worth throwing everything on the line [to catch him].
“You never discount him or underestimate him. That what’s makes him a good champion.”
Sky ruled the road. The team stands to win the race and put Rogers on the podium in second. Froome sits fourth overall and Porte ninth. Some journalists likened the team’s dominance to Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal/Discovery team.
“It’s very similar, and also very similar to Banesto, they used to do the same thing,” Wiggins said. “You race on strengths and efficiently as possible each day. That’s what we do. It works, we are not going to change it.”
Miguel Indurain won five Tours with Banesto and Armstrong seven with his team. Wiggins has yet to win one, but the numbers are starting to add up.