Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) climbed solo to win the penultimate stage of the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné on Saturday atop Le Collet d’Allevard.

On a day when the climbers showed their hand, Robert Gesink (Rabobank) came home in second at 31 seconds, with Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) in third at 39 seconds.

Race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) rode very strongly to finish sixth and strengthen his overall lead with just one stage remaining in the race. The Brit gained crucial time on second-placed rival Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) to increase his lead at the top of the table to 1-26.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is third overall at 1-52. Rodriguez’s efforts moved him up to sixth overall, 3-01 behind Wiggins.

Eight escapees

Andrey Amador (Movistar), Sandy Casar (FDJ), Mauro Finetto (Liquigas), Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step) and Yuriy Trofimov (Katusha) formed a successful escape group after 80km.

The eight riders pushed on over the Col de Tamié, but the Sky-controlled bunch didn’t let them off the leash too much. By the fifth of the day’s six categorised climbs, the Col du Grand Cucheron, the escapees only had two minutes on the bunch. They were caught with 11km to go.

Within the last 10km on the final climb of Le Collet d’Allevard, a select group of 15 riders including most of the overall contenders upped the pace, with Wiggins’ Sky team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen driving hard at the front.

Wiggins sets the pace

As soon as Boasson Hagen peeled off, Robert Gesink (Rabobank) had a first dig, but was swiftly followed by the rest of the pack bar Ivan Basso (Liquigas) who again struggled with the day’s pace. 

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) then pushed on, splintering the group behind leaving only Gesink, Wiggins, Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Christophe Kern (Europcar) and Cadel Evans (BMC) remaining in the chase.

Wiggins took control of the pursuit as a determined Rodriguez kept away, dropping Vinokourov who rejoined the chasers. Evans then looked to be struggling and lost contact with the Wiggins group with 3km to go.

Rodriguez continued, building up a good margin of 40-plus seconds over the chasers in the final kilometre.

Wiggins and Vinokourov were then distanced by Van Den Broeck, Gesink and Kern but the race leader’s work was done – he’d gained more valuable time on rival Evans and safely kept the yellow jersey for the final day.

Final test

Sunday’s final stage of the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné takes the riders from Pontcharra to La Toussuire. The day’s short 117.5km route hides the fact that it features an ascent and descent of the hors categorie Col de la Croix de Fer and a mountain-top finish at La Toussuire.

Results

Critérium du Dauphiné 2011, stage six: Les Gets to Le Collet d’Allevard, 192.5km

1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha


2. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 31 secs

3. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 39 secs

4. Christophe Kern (Fra) Europcar at 41 secs

5. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 50 secs

6. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky at 54 secs

7. Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Saxo Bank-Sungard at 1-00

8. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 1-06

9. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 1-09

10. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar at 1-58

Other

30. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 4-58

129. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 23-07

136. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 29-39

Overall classification after stage six

1. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky in 23-16-11


2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 1-26

3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 1-52

4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 2-13

5. Christophe Kern (Fra) Europcar at 2-52

6. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 3-01

7. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 3-30

8. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 4-14

9. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Radioshack at 4-22

10. Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar at 4-27

Other

42. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 17-44

78. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 29-10

134. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 54-09

Christophe Kern chases Joaquin Rodriguez, Criterium du Dauphine 2011, stage six

Christophe Kern leads the chase of Joaquin Rodriguez

Bradley Wiggins, Criterium du Dauphine 2011, stage six

Bradley Wiggins on the final climb

Joaquin Rodriguez solo, Criterium du Dauphine 2011, stage six

Joaquin Rodriguez solos to win

Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: Stage reports

Stage five: Wiggins stays in yellow after Kern takes stage

Stage four: Easy for Degenkolb as Wggins retains lead

Stage three: Wiggins moves into overall lead after time trial

Stage two: Degenkolb wins as Wiggins moves up

Stage one: Van Den Broeck wins stage as Vinokourov takes lead

Prologue: Boom wins as Wiggins comes third

Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: Photo galleries

Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage three ITT photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson

Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson

Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: Related links

Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: The Big Preview - includes stage guide, TV guide, team list, previous winners and more