Lutsenko climbs into the race lead on Critérium du Dauphiné stage 6
Alexey Lutsenko returned to the podium on stage six with the yellow jersey on his shoulders as the new race leader after an impressive performance in the mountains.
After flying to the time trial win on stage four, Lutsenko started the day one second off the race lead and dug deep on the category three summit finish to cross the line in seventh place and inherit the race lead.
“For me, this is really special. Today was a really hard stage but we fought for the yellow jersey. I’m really happy to take the yellow jersey as that was the goal today. Today was hard for everybody, not just for me. I didn’t have a plan to attack, my plan was to follow and take the wheels of Movistar and Ineos. In the last kilometres, I was following Valverde’s wheel but I wasn’t able to stay with him,” said Lutsenko.
“Day by day, I am feeling good but the most important thing before tomorrow is recovery and seeing how the lags are tomorrow on the climbs. I have worked a lot so far and tomorrow is another hard day. The climbs are longer but I will fight to keep the yellow jersey and we also have Ion Izagirre just behind me so we have good cards to play.”
Lutsenko was joined in the front group by Ion Izagirre who moves into second place overall, eight seconds behind Lutsenko, after a brilliant day of teamwork from Alex Aranburu, Dmitry Gruzdev, Yuriy Natarov and Oscar Rodgriguez.
“It was a good day for us and we worked hard to set things up in the finale as it was a good finish for Alexey. In the last five kilometres there were some good attacks but finally we arrived all together, about 25 of us. In the sprint I am not so fast so I just tried to stay up there and not lose any time. Tomorrow will be another hard stage especially in the beginning as it will not be easy to control. There are some guys not so far away in the GC who may try to go in the breakaway so we have to be ready for anything. And then in the last climb, you have to give everything you have. My legs are good and I’m feeling good after the altitude block so I’m happy with how things are going,” said Izagirre.
After a battle for the breakaway that played out for more than one hour, 14 riders eventually went clear but the peloton kept their advantage under three minutes in anticipation of the four categorized climbs in the final 50 kilometres.
The breakaway’s advantage quickly came down as various teams took up the chase, including a strong effort from Astana – Premier Tech approaching the final 25 kilometres.
With the last of the attackers caught, the General Classification riders began to pick up the pace on the final three kilometre-climb to the line. But it was an attack from Alejandro Valverde that went unmatched and saw the Spaniard take the stage win while Lutsenko followed close behind in seventh place and Izagirre in 15th.
Lutsenko carries the race lead into a big weekend of racing in the mountains, including the summit finish on La Plagne on stage 7.
Critérium du Dauphiné
Stage 6: Loriol-sur-Drome > Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse
Top 3: 1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), 2. Tao Geaghan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers), Patrick Konrad (Bora- hansgrohe)
Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 7. Alexey Lutsenko, 15. Ion Izagirre, 66. Yuriy Natarov