photo credits @ ASO
Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) claimed stage 6 of the Critérium du Dauphiné in Crest- Voland today, battling Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) on the line to seize the day’s honors.
Zimmermann was part of a 14-rider breakaway that got away from the outset of today’s 168.2 kilometer stage that started in Nantua, later emerging alongside Burgaudeau and Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers) on the Col des Aravis, before the attacking on the final climb of the Côte de Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe.
Burgaudeau dug deep to catch him with 500 meters to go, subsequently commencing a final attack. But, Zimmermann was able to surged clear and snatch the victory.
Burgaudeau was close to tears after the stage, but took solace in gaining the lead in the mountains classification and the blue polka dot jersey.
“I can’t believe it at this moment, I just gave my best and tried everything to be as good as possible, it worked out perfectly,” Zimmerman said. “Yesterday I felt strong but it didn’t work out and today I tried again and like I gave it everything.
“I knew the parcours really well because in 2018 there was a finish up here in the Tour de L’Avenir and I was in a similar situation but the favourites sprinted around me with 200 metres to go. Today it was the other way round, I could attack on the climb and go full gas and in the end take the sprint, I’m completely speechless.”
Meanwhile, race leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and his overall rivals played it safe today, saving their legs for the weekend’s showdown in the mountains.
Indeed, Vingegaard attacked during final kilometer, but the Danish rider was kept in check.
“Someone else started the show, Tobias Johannessen did a good attack and made it really hard. I was thinking of making a counter-attack but in the end, the climb was not long enough or hard enough to make the difference and selection,” Vingegaard explained.
“I think my team did super well. They worked really well and I had teammates even until the final, so I can be satisfied and happy with how everyone did today and yesterday.”
Vingegaard leads Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën) by 1:10, with Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) third at 1:23 but will stay vigilant in the high mountains.
“I think they’ll be super hard stages, they’re long mountain stages, so hopefully I’ll feel good,” he said. “I’m looking at the whole top ten, you can’t give space to anyone. You have to look at everyone and not let any gaps go.”
The day’s 18 strong breakaway group was eventually reduced to 14, with Zimmerman later attacking 4.5 kilometers from the summit of the final climb, with Burgaudeau and Castroviejo quickly joining him.
The three worked well together, keen to hold off the rest of the break and the peloton and fight for a stage victory. They dived down the descent to the foot of the Côte de Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe and the peloton seemed to have lost their chance.
Vingegaard had just Benoot to protect him on the final climb after some work by Attila Valter, but he decided attack was the best form of defence and tested all his rivals in the final kilometre.
The 2022 Tour de France winner initially got away with O’Connor but the other GC contenders got back to him before the sprint to the line.
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