Janez Brajkovic held off a flurry of attacks by Alberto Contador up L’Alpe d’Huez to protect his race lead at the Critérium du Dauphiné today in France. Two-time Tour de France winner Contador tried numerous times, but was unable to shake the Slovenian of team RadioShack and make up his 1’41” deficit.
Lance Armstrong is racing at the Tour de Suisse, but will have taken note of his team-mate’s performance ahead of the Tour de France. Brajkovic, 26, will have likely earned himself a place on the nine-man team for the Tour de France, which starts July 3 in Rotterdam.
Despite not dropping Brajkovic to take the race lead, Astana’s Contador was able to take the stage win by sprinting free with 200 metres remaining. Contador has likely missed the opportunity to add the Dauphiné overall to his impressive list of palmarès since the races ends with circuit in Sallanches tomorrow. However, look for Contador to attack again tomorrow.
“I am really happy to win here today. I still have some ways to go to be in my best shape, but the team worked really hard and I was able to win the stage,” Contador said.
He said he was thinking more about winning the famous stage than the classification today.
“I was online last night checking out some videos of Alpe d’Huez, and I saw how riders like [Marco] Pantani and Armstrong won here, so I went to bed last night dreaming of winning.”
Brajkovic is inline for his first classification win since the 2007 Tour of Georgia. He showed class in defence of the yellow jersey today along the roads from Crolles to L’Alpe d’Huez. He was isolated by team Astana’s Daniel Navarro and Jesús Hernández and then by Contador’s attacks — at least five up the final 13.8-kilometre climb. Each time, however, Brajkovic managed to motor up to the Spaniard’s back wheel.
Contador attacked at 8.8, 8.3, 7.5, 2.4 and 2.2 kilometres remaining to the 1850-metre summit. His attacks left Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia), Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas-Doimo), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Jérôme Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) scattered behind.
Szmyd came to the race after helping Ivan Basso win the Giro d’Italia and looked the strongest of the rest today. He tried a couple of attacks, but Contador and Brajkovic eventually left him behind. He finished in third, 14 seconds back and Van den Broeck crossed at 35 seconds back.
Contador has won the overall classification in three races so far this year, but found his young rival too consistent. He could only mange the stage win and, though likely disappointed, still fired his trademark pistol salute.
USA’s Van Garderen showed impressively. He stood second overall yesterday and only slipped one place to third overall, holding off Frenchman Nicolas Vogondy (Bbox Bouygues Telecom).
Scot David Millar did not contend for the overall, a race won in 1990 by fellow Scot, Robert Millar. Millar lost contact with the main contenders today on the Col du Glandon.
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage six: Crolles – Alpe-d’Huez, 151.5km
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana in 4-31-01
2. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack
3. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Doimo at 17sec
4. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 24sec
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 40sec
6. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne at 1-17
7. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 1-18
8. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
9. Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
10. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack at 1-26
Overall classification after stage six
1. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack in 24-26-05
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 1-41
3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Columbia at 2-41
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 3-46
5. Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 4-23
6. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun at 4-17
7. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 4-23
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 5-54
9. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack at 6-10
10. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Doimo at 6-33
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage five: Navarro wins
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage four: Vogondy wins as Brajkovic protects lead
Criterium du Dauphine 2010 stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson>>
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage three TT: Brajkovic takes time trial ahead of Millar
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage three photo gallery
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage two: JJ Haedo sprints to win
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage two photo gallery
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage one: Bole wins opening road stage
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, stage one photo gallery
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, prologue photo gallery
Criterium du Dauphine 2010, prologue: Contador wins, Thomas fourth
Criterium du Dauphine 2010: The Big Preview