Team Ineos completed their Critérium du Dauphiné with a flurry of back-to-back stage wins courtesy of Wout Poels in stage 7 and Dylan van Baarle in stage 8.  It was not enough to crack the GC podium though, which was topped for the second time in three years by Jakob Fuglsang of Astana.

After losing team leader Chris Froome through a horror pre-race crash on day 4, Team Ineos bounced back to finish on a high note that began in stage 7 to Les Sept-Laux Pipau, an HC categorised climb that followed the trio of category 1 climbs in the Col de l’Epine, the Col du Granier and Col de Marcieu.  The 133.5km stage saw Adam Yates head into the stage with the overall race lead on a day that took a turn for the worst weather-wise as the day dragged on.

A large breakaway group that featured Alexey Lutsenko of Astana, Michael Woods of EF Education First, Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-Quick Step went up the road with the latter after KOM points.  But it was the former two who went on the attack with some 35km remaining to go after stage honours, with the duo enjoying a lead of 1.35mins over the yellow jersey group.

Adam Yates fought through stage 7 but a fever brought him to a halt in stage 8, photo Sirotti

The duo’s lead grew to just under 2 minutes with 19km to go thanks to the addition of Gianni Moscon of Team Ineos, Jesper Hansen of Cofidis and Mickaël Cherel of AG2R La Mondiale and then a larger group of riders who added further fire power to the move; including Astana’s Magnus Cort.  Back in the peloton Movistar set the tempo for Nairo Quintana and looked to be lining up a shot at stage victory with the gap down to less than a minute with 12km to go.

The final climb was a dynamic one with Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet, Emanuel Buchmann and Jakob Fuglsang all going on the attack as the breakaway were swept up with 5km to go.  It was the Dane’s attack that shook Adam Yates though, although the Brit dug deep to limit his losses.  Together with Buchmann it looked like a two-up battle for the line until Wout Poels dug deep to get across and then out-kick his companions to take the stage win ahead of Fuglsang and Buchmann.  

From there the clock ticked on and when Thibaut Pinot, Dan Martin and Adam Yates crossed the line 10 seconds later it was confirmed that Fuglsang had succeeded Yates at the top of the standings by just 8 seconds with one day remaining.

Wout Poels celebrates a well-taken win in stage 7, photo Sirotti

Van Baarle completes a double for Team Ineos, Fuglsang triumphs overall

And so to the final stage.  Following the recent trend being set by the ASO, the finale opted for a short but potentially electric climax to the race.  Just 113.5km to race but with seven categorised climbs to navigate it was going to be a thrilling battle, and there were no shortage of breakaway candidates to tackle the stage either.  

Once again Julian Alaphilippe was in the move along with Jack Haig of Mitchelton-SCOTT, Felix Großschartner of BORA-Hansgrohe, Dylan van Baarle of Team Ineos, Carlos Verona of Movistar, Sebastien Reichenbach of Groupama-FDJ, Nils Politt of Katusha-Alpecin, Sep Kuss of Jumbo-Visma, Julien Bernard of Trek-Segafredo, Carl Fredrik Hagen of Lotto Soudal, Alessandro De Marchi of CCC Team, Warren Barguil of Team Arkéa Samsic and Hermann Pernsteiner of Bahrain Merida.  The group formed a significant advantage of 4.05mins after 61km of racing.  

Dylan Van Baarle made it a Team Ineos double of stage wins, photo Sirotti

Astana policed matters very well in the peloton, keeping the break’s lead at around 4 minutes but not seeing any threat to their GC ambitions.  Their hopes of overall victory were bolstered further by the abandoning of Adam Yates due to fever with 47km to go.  It was interesting that Team Ineos and AG2R La Mondiale took over at the front of the peloton as the race approached 20km to go and really drilled the main field, looking for one last shake up in the general classification.  As they did so, Jack Haig went on the attack and was joined by Dylan van Baarle with the duo cresting the summit of the Côte des Rives with a lead of 24 seconds over Julian Alaphilippe and 1.40mins over the peloton.

They resolved to keep working together all the way to the line, where van Baarle had the legs to out-sprint his companion.  The duo finished 50 seconds clear of Carl Fredrik Hagen with Warren Barguil in 4th place.  Alexey Lutsenko led hoe the group containing Nairo Quintana, Thibaut Pinot, Jakob Fuglsang and co, 1.59mins down on van Baarle.  The result was enough for Fuglsang to take a second Dauphiné win by 20 seconds fro Tejay van Garderen of EF Education First and Emanuel Buchmann of BORA-Hansgrohe.

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