Courchevel, 15 June, 2014
Stage 8 : Talansky shines to deny Contador
With Chris Froome chances of back to back wins fallen by the wayside Alberto Contador was poised to take the throne as the race headed to its final showdown in Courchevel. Andrew Talansky though had a different plan and seized the crown for himself with an epic ride to win the 66th Critérium du Dauphiné. Contador now knows though that frrome is vulnerable and will have uprated his hopes ofr the Tour de France
23 riders ahead, including Talansky
Following an early attack by Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) in pursuit of the first French victory at this Critérium du Dauphiné, 23 riders rode away after the côte de Domancy on their way up to Megève where they had taken the start:
David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Richie Porte (Sky), Tanel Kangert, Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Dani Navarro, Yoann Bagot (Cofidis), Adam Yates (Orica), Igor Anton, John Gadret (Movistar), Romain Bardet, Alexis Gougeard, Jean-Christoph Péraud (AG2R), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Jurgen Van den Broeck, Tony Gallopin (Lotto), Kristjan Koren (Cannondale), Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Yuriy Trofimov (Katusha), Ryder Hesjedal, Andrew Talansky (Garmin), Elia Favilli (Lampre), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp). The presence of four riders from the top ten overall, Talansky (3rd at 0.39), Van den Broeck, Bardet and Yates, made it an unusual and dangerous move!
Contador alone vs team Sky at full complement
Porte and Westra dropped back as Team Sky launched a counter-attack in the ascent to col des Saisies. A group of 18 riders formed with Chris Froome, Vassil Kiryienka, Danny Pate, Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas (Sky), Vincenzo Nibali, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), Luis Maté (Cofidis), Mikaël Chérel, Ben Gastauer (AG2R), Sébastien Reichenbach (IAM), Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Dani Moreno (Katusha), Jan Bakelants (OPQS), Wilco Kelderman, Martijn Keizer (Belkin) and Leo König (NetApp). Up the front Contador was left with no team-mates.
Talansky dethrones Contador
The chasing group looked like coming across to the first one in the Tarentaise valley leading to the two final climbs but Froome and Contador eventually looked at each other and let Nibali go in a smart counter-attack.
AG2R-La Mondiale and Garmin-Sharp,through Jean-Christophe Péraud and Ryder Hesjedal, continued pacing hard at the front at the service of Bardet and Talansky respectively. At the bottom of the côte de Montagny with 24km to go, Contador attacked and showed his superiority to Froome and his team-mates as he rode by himself at the pursuit of virtual leader Talansky.
Contador had left it too late and was going to miss the overall win by 27 seconds to the American from Garmin-Sharp but he got another positive sign ahead of the Tour de France as he overtook Nibali before the finish line while Froome was struggling four minutes behind his arch-rival and closed the Dauphiné with a disappointing twelfth place overall after leading the race for five days before crashing in stage 6.
Nieve on his own to the stage victory
Talansky did most of the work in the final uphill to Courchevel-Le Praz, taking over from Hesjedal, but as he focused on his time in the overall classification exclusively, Nieve on the other hand was fresh for contesting the stage victory. The Basque rider from Team Sky attacked with 3.3km to go and maintained a small advance of three seconds over Bardet who was the other rider awarded for his offensive spirit as he moved up to the final top 5. This made a thrilling finale for a race contested at a very competitive level by most of the protagonists of the coming Tour de France.