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60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré Stage 4 Live
By Staff
Date: 6/12/2008
60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré Stage 4 Live

60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré Stage 4 Live
Into the mountains, a break of 16 is away... three riders attack off the front of the break

Stage4: Vienne - Annemasse 193 km
Welcome to our live coverage of the 4th stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré as we transition to the first real test of the riders climbing legs. This morning three riders didn't start Sébastien Minard (Cofidis), Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) and Adam Hansen (High Road). Kohl crashed hard a day ago and had to abandon.

So far today we've had the stage hunters attempting to escape, but none succeeded in their efforts to get a sustainable gap. In the meantime also Alessandro Prono (Quick Step) abandoned the race.

Finally a break of 16 riders went up the road after 69 kilometers of racing: Roy Sentjens (Silence-Lotto), Sergio Paulinho (Astana), Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), Juan José Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Christophe Le Mével and Pierre Rolland (Crédit Agricole), Juan Manuel Garate (Quick Step), Cyril Dessel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Amaël Moinard (Cofidis), Heinrich Haussler and Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner), Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Télécom), Frédérik Willems (Liquigas), Lars Bak (CSC), David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval) and Dominik Roels (Milram).

Stage 4 elevation profile courtesy of Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré

The maximum gap of the 16 was around the 4.00 minutes, currently the small tribe of raiders has 3.30 with 36 km to go. We still have some tough climbing to come. Caisse D'Epargne and Rabobank are leading the pace in the bunch but Valverde's team won't chase as they have the 2006 Tour de France Champion Oscar Pereiro in the break.

In the break we see several attacks now. The break is too large and the climbers will want to reduce the group on the final climb. The two riders who attacked are: French hero Thomas Voeckler and French young gun Pierre Rolland. Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) and Rolland (Credit Agricole) already have a good gap on Milram's Dominik Roels who tries to bridge across.

The gap of the break goes up to 3.54 as the attack pushes the pace. Tommy Voeckler doesn't need an introduction to most fans as he wore the yellow jersey in the Tour a few years ago and won lots of races due to his aggressive style. Rolland is a young gun with Credit Agricole and recently showed his potential in this years Paris-Nice. Rolland and Voeckler are working well together and their gap on their former break companions is increasing.

The two leaders have started the 9 km category 1climb of the leg busting Saleve.

26 km to go. the two leaders have 26 seconds on the chasers and 4.00 on the bunch. The riders face the 15 hairpins on the Saleve as it snakes to the summit. So we will expect some fireworks soon on the climb... still 7 km to the summit of the Saleve.

Voeckler is pushing his pedals with effort a grimace on his as he struggles on the climb. The style of Rolland looks easier but so far they are still together. The two leaders have opened a gap of 45 seconds on Dominik Roels, 1.02 on the other chasers and 3.50 on the bunch.

The bunch starts the climb as Caisse D 'Epargne leads the pace. At the front, Rolland has dropped Voeckler. Rolland alone in the lead how as Voeckler almost stands still, but no wonder as Rolland is a promising climbing talent.

Behind riders are pedaling backwards off the tail of the peloton. Still two Caisse d'Epargne riders with Valverde. We will see attacks if Valverde ends up on his own up there. But he still has Pereiro in front.

Cyril Dessel chases Pierre Rolland. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

23 km to go, Rolland has 3'24 on the bunch, his chances of success look better every minute. The Valverde gruppo is about 30 riders strong. Heinrich Haussler is the first one of the former 16 man break caught by the yellow jersey group.

1600 CEST - 20 km to go. Rolland has still 3.30 on the bunch, but he isn't any threat to the G.C. leaders being over 4.00 down on Valverde after the time-trial. Rolland is still going strong. Valverde and the lead group have no interest in increasing the pace soon; he has good chance to win the stage.

Lars Bak leads the chase of the 4 survivors of the break.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

The next one of the former break who is caught is Belgian Frederik Willems. Voeckler and Roels appear to be standing still trapped in a slow motion agony on the steep slopes as they are caught by the bunch. Rolland is almost at the summit of the Saleve; the toughest part of the stage is done for him. Young Gun, Robert Gesink is now leading the pace. The group of the G.C. favorites is about 10/15 riders strong - in front Rolland has 28 seconds on Dessel.

Evans, Gesink, Leipheimer, Valverde, Zubeldia set the pace in front of the chase. At the front of the race Dessel is closing on Rolland - 20 seconds behind. 15 seconds for Rolland on Dessel. It seems that one of these two riders will win the stage, but as Cyril Dessel is the most experienced we think that the former yellow jersey wearer will take it.

Dessel catches Rolland  Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

It's done... Dessel catches Rolland and immediately attacks, Rolland can't follow. Dessel is now the new stage leader.  They are now on the top of the Saleve. Dessel earlier this year won a stage in Dunkerque and the Volta a Catalunya. The duo starts their descent.

Back in the Valverde group the bunch has swelled to 25 as riders rejoined on the climb. Dessel is 21st in the ranking about 3.19 down on Valverde The bunch is on top of the Saleve, they summit  2.35 down on Dessel. The bunch is about 20 riders strong but its likely that more riders will rejoin the pack on the descent.

1614 CEST -  16 km to go. Dessel is not the best at descending; he almost misses the second turn. The Frenchmen is taking a lot of risks to get the stage win that's for sure. The next one to be caught by the bunch is Quick Step Spaniard Juanma Garate.

10 km to go, Dessel is coming down quite fast, such that even the cameraman motorbike has a hard time following him. His advantage over the field was 02'39" at the latest check.

8 km to go. Dessel has about 30 seconds on Rolland and 2.30 on the bunch. between Rolland and the bunch some other riders of the former break, as we said that Rolland is closing the gap, now 20 seconds down on Dessel.

6 km to go. The peloton is currently being driven by an orange warrior of Euskaltel, with Valverde steadily in second wheel. You would expect that the orange warrior is master descender Samuel Sanchez. But no sign of Sammie yet.

1622 CEST - 3km to go, As Dessel flies up the road. Dario Cioni of Silence/Lotto is on the front leading the chase - Dessel has 18 seconds on Rolland, but the gap stays a good 02'30" over the Valverde group... he's minutes away from almost certain victory in Annemasse.

They are now in Annemasse, 2 km to go....  final km...

Patrice Halgand of Credit Agricole gives it a try at breaking away... Rogers follows suit...

Dessel is still alone with a small gap on Rolland... 300 mt... 100 mt...

and the winner is... CYRILLE DESSEL (AG2R)!!

Solo Victory for Cyril Dessel!! Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Dessel took a deserved reward for his efforts, finishing solo. Pierre Rolland rolls in at second 18 seconds down on Dessel who's winning time to the line was: 04h37'17"

The break survivors group are in the final km now. Amael Moinard finishes third and Oscar Pereiro 4th at 1.20.  Two Caisse guys on the front of the field are pacing their team leader. A four up sprint as the second chase group of four break members arrive and sprint to the line CSC's Lars Bak wins the four up contest  for 5th, David de la Fuente 6th, the Credit Agricole duo Le Mével and Halgand in for 7th and 8th. 

Jelle Venendert and Sergio Paulinho defiantly fight to the finish a the peloton on there wheels. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Rogers seems the first one of the chase to come in second behind break survivors who barely evade the chasers: Bak, De la Fuente and some others. We're waiting for the official results for the exact top 10 - Christophe Le Mevel 7th, Patrice Halgand 8th, Michael Rogers 9th and Jelle Vanendert 10th.

Stage 4 Top Ten Results
1. Cyril Dessel (AG2R-la Mondiale)
2. Pierre Rolland (Crédit Agricole) à 18"
3. Amaël Moinard (Cofidis) à 1'21"
4. Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) à 1'21"
5. Lars Bak (CSC) à 2'07"
6. David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval) à 2'07"
7. Christophe Le Mével (Crédit Agricole) à 2'07"
8. Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole) à 2'07"
9. Michael Rogers (High Road) à 2'09"
10. Jelle Vanendert (Française des Jeux) à 2'11".

The first chase group with Valverde came in at 2.11 after  Dessel. Alejandro Valverde remains in the lead of the Overall Classification. David de la Fuente will be the new leader in the KOM ranking. Dessel is 2nd at 2 points and Rolland third. Dessel will be moving up the G.C. for his effort today.

1633 CEST -  Now a group with Michael Barry rolls in at about 5.30 after the finish of stage winner  Dessel.

General Classification (provisional)
1. Alejandro Valverde
2. Levi Leipheimer
3. Cadel Evans
4. Cyrille Dessel
5. Maxime Monfort
6. Mikel Astarloza
7. Oscar Pereiro
8. Robert Gesink
9. Pierre Rolland
10. Yuri Trofimov

The stage winner cut down his overall gap to the Spaniard to 01'08", whilst Levi's and Cadel's time deficits to Valverde are 23 and 37 seconds respectively.

Tomorrow the riders have a stage from Ville-la-Grand - Morzine, a tough 125 km test with 4 climbs. The final climb is the legendary Hors Category Col de Joux-Plane after which the riders descend to the finish in Morzine. Race Profile

Tour of Slovenia Update:
It's not about the French only. There's some bike racing going on in Slovenia too. The second stage of their national Tour - the Dirka Po Sloveniji, went from Piran to the Istrian seaside port Koper over 179 kilometres Thursday.

The stage was dominated by the Perutnina Ptuj squad, that wrapped the top three places, courtesy of stage winner Radoslav Rogina as well as Mitja Mahorič and Gregor Gazvoda. The guys attacked the peloton, along with Croatia's Vladimir Miholjević and the Italian Alberto Curtolo (both wearing the Liquigas jersey), about 6 kilometres from the finish, after previous escapees Nazareno Rossi (Serramenti PVC) Esad Hasanović (Partizan-Centri della Calzatura) and Luca Celli (Team LPR, on the move also at Memorial Pantani this past Saturday...) were brought back.

More detailed news and results of the stage in Slovenia to follow in a separate article.

Thanks for joining us for the live coverage today, check back for results and photos.

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