BONNEVILLE, France: Astana’s Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang outshone defending champion Chris Froome and Australian Richie Porte to win the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine to claim overall victory on Sunday.
Fuglsang, a silver medallist in the road race event at last year’s Rio Olympics, went into the stage in third place.
But he managed to overhaul his rivals on a gruelling mountain ride, 115km long over three cols (Saisies, Aravis, Colombiere) before a final climb to the finish line at the Plateau de Solaison, high in the Alps.
The 32-year-old Dane soloed to the stage win, finishing 12sec ahead of Ireland’s Dan Martin. Crucially, overnight leader Porte was 1min 15sec off the pace and Froome, who started the ride in second, a further 21sec adrift.
Fuglsang’s victory meant he leapfrogged Porte in the overall standings, the Australian claiming second at 10sec with Martin rounding out the podium by 1sec from Froome, the three-time Tour de France winner.
“It’s amazing! I don’t know what to say. Even with jersey I can’t believe it, I’ve been close to the yellow jersey many times in my career,” Fuglsang said.
“We tried to keep our positions on GC and it came down to a big big fight for the overall victory.
“We planned it very well with Fabio (Aru) attacking (with Alejandro Valverde in the col de la Colombiere) and everything went in our favour.
“We played really smart. Froome had to pull after Fabio and Valv. I tried to keep cool all day, and without pushing too much I went for the stage win and I got it all.”
The Dane said the victory was a warning shot at rival teams for the July 1-23 Tour de France.
“There’s still a long way to the Tour but I’m really happy with my condition now. I’ll have to take it easy onto the Tour,” he said.
“With Fabio we’ll form a good couple for the Tour. We’ll share the leadership and we have a good team.”