The Cote du Laffrey, once known as the most dangerous road in Europe, lived up to its name as far as Team Sky is concerned. On what looked to be a lumpy but not mountainous day suited for a breakaway win, Chris Froome’s general classification rivals attacked early and often, putting Sky on the back foot but not quite cracking Froome.
After a furious first hour of racing, a breakaway of nine riders was joined by a chase group of 8, making for a group of 17 escapees representing 14 teams. With such broad representation, the break seemed destined to stay away, but aggressive racing behind meant their lead began to dwindle in the final hour. On the penultimate climb, the Col du Morte (appropriately named for its effect on Sky’s workers), Alberto Contador attacked hard and pressed his lead on the descent, joining up with teammate Sergio Paolinho and joining most of the breakaway on the low slopes of the Cote du Laffrey. Spilak, a stage winner at the Tour of Romandie, had already flown the coop, though, and was a minute up on his nearest chaser.
Behind, Sky manned their battle stations and used up several riders in the pursuit of Contador, eventually bringing him back into the fold partially up the Laffrey. With only Richie Porte and Mikel Nieve left - and both tired from the pursuit of Contador - Froome was isolated and other attacks began in earnest. Following a bevy of accelerations Adam Yates (Orica GreenEDGE) and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) managed to open up a durable gap and crossed the line 14 seconds behind Spilak and 3 seconds ahead of the chasing peloton. Thanks to the time gap and bonus seconds for finishing second on the stage, Kelderman retains his third place overall but moves to the same time - 12 seconds behind Froome - as second placed Contador. With two days of mountaintop finishes this weekend, the GC is tight indeed and we should witness some good battles on the Finault-Emosson and at Courchevel.
- Simon Spilak (Katusha)
- Wilco Kelderman, at 14"
- Adam Yates (Orica GreenEDGE), at 14"
- Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEDGE), at 17"
- Romain Bardet (Ag2r - La Mondiale), at 17"
- Christopher Froome (Sky)
- Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), at 12"
- Wilco Kelderman (Belkin), at 12"
- Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), at 33"
- Jurgen Van Den Broeck, at 35"