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Alexey Lutsenko impresses with maiden Criterium du Dauphine podium – Astana

Alexey Lutsenko impresses with maiden Criterium du Dauphine podium

Alexey Lutsenko battled to successfully defend his podium place at the Criterium du Dauphine on a brutal day in the mountains, finishing second overall to secure his first WorldTour podium this year.

The Kazakh champion and stage four time trial winner finished 17 seconds behind winner Richie Porte while Ion Izagirre, after a brilliant display of teamwork, finished in seventh place, 38 seconds behind.

“I am really happy to be on the podium. To finish second overall and win a stage is a really good result for me so I can be happy. As I said yesterday, there are a lot of big champions here at the race so to be on the podium with two of them; Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas is something special. The team did great work all week and I really have to thank them, especially Ion in the last two days as he helped me a lot to stay on the podium. Today was a really hard stage and it was a big fight until the end so I am really happy that I could stay up there and finish it off today. Now I will rest and recover and then it’s all in for the Tour de France,” said Lutsenko.

Mark Padun took a second consecutive stage win while behind, the General Classification battle played out on the sixth and final climb and descent, where Izagirre and Lutsenko showed their descending skills to gap Porte. After coming back together at the bottom of the descent, the Astana – Premier Tech duo didn’t give up and attacked multiple times on the uncategorized climb to the finish line in Les Gets.

In the end, the group finished together and Lutsenko and Izagirre maintained their GC positions after the mountainous stage, which featured almost 4000 meters of elevation.

Izagirre takes confidence from his performance as he fine tunes his preparation for the Tour de France.

“In the end I think we can be happy with the work done by all of us, really. There are a lot of positives to take away from the race. We won a stage with Lutsenko, we finished other stages with second place and third place with me and Alex. The team worked well and in the end we finished it off with the podium with Lutsenko. So we can leave this race happy and look forward to the Tour,” said Izagirre.

Team Performance Manager echoed Izagirre’s sentiments, praising the team’s work throughout the race which included Aranburu sprinting to four top ten results.

“The team raced really well all week and they can be proud of their performance. We showed we were some of the strongest in the race so we can be happy finishing with a stage win, and first and second on the time trial, and then second overall with Alexey. It was not an easy race, especially these last days. We fought as hard as we could until the end and the team did their maximum. Ion Izagirre showed he is in great form and did amazing work for Alexey, ” added Fofonov.

Race Profile
Criterium du Dauphine
Stage 8: La Léchère-Les-Bains > Les Gets (147km)
Top 3: 1. Mark Padun (Bahrain – Victorious), 2. Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma), 3. Patrick Konrad (BORA – hansgrohe)
Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 7. Alexey Lutsenko, 13. Ion Izagirre, 34. Oscar Rodriguez
Top 3 on GC: 1. Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers), 2. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana – Premier Tech), 3. Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers)
Astana – Premier Tech top 3 on GC: 2. Alexey Lutsenko, 7. Ion Izagirre, 50. Oscar Rodriguez

Photo: Getty Images

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Lutsenko battles to stay on the podium at Criterium du Dauphine – Astana

Lutsenko battles to stay on the podium at Criterium du Dauphine

A gutsy ride from Alexey Lutsenko on Criterium du Dauphine stage seven saw the race leader fight hard to keep his yellow jersey, crossing the line in tenth place to move into second on the General Classification.

After a brilliant display of teamwork on the summit finish to La Plagne, Ion Izagirre sits in seventh overall with the race still wide open with one stage remaining.

“Today was a really hard mountain stage. The team did amazing work today and especially Ion did great work for me in the last 10 kilometres. When I look around and see all of the big GC riders who are here, big champions like Thomas and Porte, I know how hard it is. I gave everything I could today and in the end, just missed 20 or so seconds. Tomorrow is the last stage and I will give my maximum for the GC. To finish on the podium would be a great result for me and for the team so I will do everything I can. But I am happy with the way I have raced here so far. My legs are good and it’s a good sign ahead of the Tour de France,” said Lutsenko.

With four climbs on the menu, it was a battle to make the breakaway with attack after attack pulled back as the peloton set a blistering pace until a group finally managed to get away after 70 kilometres of racing.

Lutsenko and Izagirre’s teammates took responsibility for the chase with the blue train lined out at the front of the bunch on the early climbs. The breakaway started to fracture in the last 50 kilometres and at the base of the 17-kilometre final climb, the General Classification group was less than two minutes behind.

The key attacks came from the GC group inside the final eight kilometres when four riders made a move on the steep ascent. Lutsenko responded to various counter attacks and Izagirre dug deep to pace the chase group behind and limit time loss as much as possible.

In the end, it was Mark Padun who claimed the stage while Richie Porte’s attack saw the Australian move into the race lead. Lutsenko battled to the line, finishing 26 seconds after Porte, to move into second overall with 17 seconds separating the two ahead of the eighth and final stage.

After working hard on the climb, Izagirre was able to fight back to finish just 13 seconds behind Lutsenko which sees him trail Porte by 38 seconds overall.

Stage 8 sees the peloton tackle six categorized climbs before an uphill finish in Les Gets to crown the winner of the Criterium du Dauphine.

Race Profile

Criterium du Dauphine

Stage 7: Saint-Martin-Le-Vinoux > La Plagne (171.1km)

Top 3: 1. Mark Padun (Bahrain Victorious), 2. Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers), 3. MigUel Angel Lopez (Movistar Team)

Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 10. Alexey Lutsenko, 16. Ion Izagirre, 66. Oscar Rodriguez

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Lutsenko climbs into the race lead on Critérium du Dauphiné stage 6 – Astana

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.

Race Profile

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

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Aranburu sprints to third place as Lutsenko maintains second on GC – Astana

Aranburu sprints to third place as Lutsenko maintains second on GC

It was a fast finish on stage 5 of the Critérium du Dauphiné which saw Alex Aranburu sprint to third place to continue his run of top ten finishes on all four of the road stages so far.

After an impressive one-two on the stage four time trial, Alexey Lutsenko and Ion Izagirre retained their places on the General Classification with second and fourth place respectively.

It was a battle for the breakaway and after a few reshuffles at the front of the race, eight riders went clear to form the breakaway of the day. The peloton kept them close and eventually brought them back approaching the final 40 kilometres.

Despite further attacks, the reduced peloton remain intact as they reached the technical final five kilometres until Getaint Thomas launched what would be the winning move with one kilometre to go.

Thomas held on to a narrow advantage to take the win and behind, Aranburu launched a strong sprint to cross the line in third place, despite his crash in the time trial.

“After the crash yesterday the idea was to see how I felt today. At the beginning of the stage, I didn’t feel good at all and I suffered a lot. But then in the middle of the race, when the race started moving a little again when there were more attacks,  I tried to be in the group as I was feeling a little better. And then on the last climb, I took things easy. I started a bit behind and little by little, I managed to get ahead and was still in the first group heading into the finale. I was well placed in the sprint and in the end, I’m happy with third place today,” said Aranburu.

With three stages remaining, the mountains continue on stage 6 with four tough climbs scheduled in the final 50 kilometres.

Race profile

Critérium du Dauphiné

Stage 5: Saint-Chamond › Saint-Vallier

Top 3: 1. Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers), 2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain – Victorious), 3. Alex Aranburu (Astana – Premier Tech)

Astana – Premier Tech top 3:  3. Alex Aranburu

Photo: Getty Images

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com

Lutsenko blitzes Criterium du Dauphiné time trial to take stunning win – Astana

Lutsenko blitzes Criterium du Dauphiné time trial to take stunning win

Alexey Lutsenko blitzed the field in the Crtierium du Dauphiné stage 4 time trial to take an impressive win on a day when Astana – Premier Tech went one-two with Ion Izagirre taking second place.

Izagirre set a flying pace on the 16.4km course to cross the line in 21’44” and move into the hot seat for a few minutes before Lutsenko stopped the clock eight seconds faster.

The Kazakh time trial champion started well to set the provisional third fastest time at the intermediate checkpoint but it was in the second half of the 16.2km course when Lutsenko put the hammer down on his Wilier Turbine to leave everything on the road.

“I did the maximum today and I’m really happy to win the stage. It wasn’t a big surprise for me because I did a lot of work on my time trial bike at altitude camp in Teide just before the race and I had a lot of motivation from Dmitry Fofonov in the car behind. We did many, many hours of training on the TT bike in the camp and it has paid off,” said Lutsenko.

“This kind of course, 16 kilometres of up and down is perfect for me. In the first six kilometres I went a bit slower and saved some energy and then in the last six to seven kilometres I went full, full gas. In the final, I just did my absolute maximum, 200 percent. To be only one second off the yellow jersey is a bit disappointing but the Dauphiné isn’t finished and I will fight to get the yellow jersey. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after in the mountains.”

Lutsenko came nail-bitingly close to taking the yellow jersey, having started the say 24 seconds behind races leader Lukas Postlberger, and ended up  missing out on the yellow jersey by just one second.

Lutsenko and Izagirre’s strong performances come on the back of a two-week block at altitude in Tenerife as they look to prepare for the Tour de France, which has seemingly paid off for the Astana – Premier Tech duo after their dominant performances today.

“I did a good time trial in Paris-Nice but in the Basque Country and Tour de Romandie, I didn’t feel very good in the time trials. So, you never know what to expect because it is a speciality but now, I feel very good. The second part of the time trial was hilly and was the most important part. There you could make the difference. I’m really happy with my result today and for the team with Alexey’s win. To be the top two on the stage is a really good result and now we’ll look to continue our success in the second half of the race,” said Izagirre.

Alex Aranburu, who was third overall at the start of the day, crashed during his time trial in a day of mixed fortunes for the team but fortunately did not sustain any major injuries.

Race Profile

Critérium du Dauphiné

Stage 4 ITT: Firminy > Roche-La-Molière

Top 3: 1. Alexey Lutsenko, Ion Izagirre, Kasper Asgreen

Photo: Getty Images

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com