Geraint Thomas cements control of Criterium du Dauphine as Pello Bilbao wins penultimate stage

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Team Sky’s Welsh rider Geraint Thomas cemented his control of the Criterium du Dauphine after finishing second on Saturday’s 6th and penultimate stage won by Spaniard Pello Bilbao.

Bilbao made his move late on during the gruelling stage that is almost the same as the Tour de France stage 11, with four major climbs and a summit finish at la Rosiere.

Thomas came in second, managing to put some further valuable seconds between himself and rivals for the yellow leader.

Briton Adam Yates, riding for Mitchelton, is second in the overall standings, 1min 29sec behind Thomas, with France’s Romain Bardet jumping up to third from seventh overnight, at 2min 01sec.

Sunday’s seventh and final 136km stage ends in the ski resort of Le Bettex after five climbs.

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Alexander Kristoff gears up for Tour de Suisse with GP du canton d’Argovie victory

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Alexander Kristoff secured top spot at the GP du canton d’Argovie in Switzerland as the UAE Team Emirates sprint sensation took his tally to four wins for the season.

The European champion, who joined the UAE team at the start of this season, showed just why they were so keen to obtain his services, as he unleashed a powerful surge to the finish to take the title.

Kristoff said: “This is my fourth win of the season, but normally I’d have more already at this point, so I put a lot of weight behind this race. For me and the entire team it’s important to show our jersey and promote cycling in the UAE – and there’s no better way to do that than to win.

“A big thanks to the team for controlling the race and taking me into the final kilometres in the best position for the sprint. I remembered this finish well, it was the same as the Tour de Suisse sprint finish in 2013.”

Kristoff will now gear up for the Tour de Suisse (June 9-17) alongside team mates Roberto Ferrari, Filippo Ganna, Diego Ulissi, Oliviero Troia, Jan Polanc and Ben Swift.

“The Tour de Suisse is next for me and I’m heading there motivated,” added the big Norwegian, 30.

“The race will be hard and with a high-level of competition, but the goal is to do well like I did in 2013 and 2015.”

The Tour de Suisse is seen as the last big challenge for riders ahead of this summer’s Tour De France, with a mixture of time trials, hilly stages and mountainous climbs.

With three weeks to go until the Tour, and an extra week to rest up, the Tour de Suisse will be vital for riders looking to test their condition and could see the peloton push the limits like never before.

Kristoff added: “In the past, when I’ve chosen to compete in the Tour de Suisse as an important prelude to the Tour de France, I’ve always gotten a lot out of it, so I’m excited at the prospect of riding in Switzerland.

“It could be a great chance to use the Swiss climbs to fine-tune my conditioning and try to make the most of any eventual opportunity to achieve a good result.”

Race Results:

  1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 4:18:24
  2. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni-Sidermec s.t.
  3. Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo Fantini +0:01

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UAE Team Emirates' Daniel Martin pleased with second place on Stage 4 at Criterium du Dauphine

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Dan Martin finishes second on Stage 4

UAE Team Emirates rider Daniel Martin admits he is not in peak condition yet but is building towards being in form for the Tour de France after claiming a podium place on Stage 4 of the Criterium du Dauphine.

The Irishman almost stole the show on the first summit finish, putting in a sterling display on the climb at Lans-En-Vercors.

His efforts were rewarded with second place behind eventual winner Julian Alaphilippe, of Quick-Step Floors, in what was a thrilling finish, with Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas third.

Coming to the end of the 181km stage, Martin looked set to steal the victory with a perfectly timed attack, but Alaphilippe just about resisted and pipped the UAE Team Emirates rider to the line.

Commenting on the result, Martin said: “I feel good, I came into the race without expectations. Just race with a smile on my face, I knew I was in good condition.”

And with the 31-year-old looking to reach his best form for Le Tour next month, Martin is encouraged by his performance.

“I just don’t have that sprint yet, but it’s coming,” he added.

“I’m happy, it was a good day and the team did a good job. It’s great in the new team environment. I had good legs in training all year, but it hasn’t come together in races for some reason.

“It’s good to get that result, it’s a relief and it’s a positive sign for the next few days. I’m still waiting for the Tour de France, I’m not in top condition, but this is a good sign for July.”

The podium finish also pushes Martin up to 20th in the overall classification, 02:40 behind the new race leader, Gianni Moscon, of Team Sky.

Friday’s fifth stage, and the second of four consecutive summit finishes, ends at the popular ski resort of Valmorel. Martin and his rivals will face a 130km route featuring two climbs, both category two, in the first 20km and then the 12.7km summit finish which averages a seven per cent incline.

Stage 4 results:

  1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 4:26:45
  2. Daniel Martin (Ire) UAE Team Emirates s.t.
  3. Geraint Thomas (UK) Team Sky s.t.

General Classification standings:

  1. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky 13:55:30
  2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky +0:06
  3. Geraint Thomas (UK) Team Sky +0:06
  4. Daniel Martin (Ire) UAE Team Emirates +2:40

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