FINHAUT-EMOSSON, France (AP) Dutch rider Lieuwe Westra came from behind to win the seventh stage of the Criterium du Dauphine while defending champion Chris Froome lost the overall lead to Alberto Contador on Saturday.
Westra, the runner-up in Friday’s stage, finished seven seconds ahead of Yury Trofimov and 16 seconds clear of Egor Silin in the 160-kilometer (99.4-mile) stage from Ville-la-Grand to Finhaut-Emosson, which featured five climbs, including two beyond classification.
Two-time Tour de France winner Contador was fourth but crossed the line 20 seconds ahead of Froome, in seventh place.
Article continues below ...
In the overall standings, Contador leads Froome by eight seconds while American rider Andrew Talansky climbed to third, 39 seconds off the pace.
”It has gone beyond my expectations so far, but the Dauphine is not over yet,” Contador told the event’s website. ”Whatever happens, I’m happy with how my legs are getting better and better every day.”
Contador said the most important thing was to be ”at 100 percent of my capacities” on July 5, when the Tour de France starts.
At the 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) mark, Westra initiated a breakaway that included Trofimov and Silin, and built a lead that reached more than seven minutes after 110 kilometers (68.4 miles).
Trofimov pulled away on the ascent of Col de la Forclaz and was later joined by teammate Silin. But Westra made up ground and overtook them in the last kilometer.
”At the beginning of the stage, I was thinking of taking a rest day for once,” Westra said. ”But I had good legs, so I went for a breakaway again. I didn’t feel good in all the climbs but in the last one I went at my own pace and I passed the two Russians with 200 meters to go.”
Froome crashed in Friday’s stage and had bruises on his left arm, back and leg. The British rider was unable to reply when Contador went on the attack in the last climb of the day, two kilometers from the finish.
”I was close to my limit but I tried my luck with attacking,” Contador said. ”It’s an incredible surprise that I managed to take the yellow jersey.”
Jurgen Roelandts dropped out early in the gruelling stage while Damiano Caruso, Michal Kwiatkowski, Yoann Offredo and Jack Bobridge did not start.
The race ends on Sunday with a 131.5-kilometer (81.7-mile) trek from Megeve to Courchevel featuring four climbs.