Spaniard Samuel Sanchez wins Criterium du Dauphine stage 7
Euskaltel team's Samuel Sanchez, of Spain, celebrates on the podium after winning the seventh stage of the 65th Dauphine cycling race between Pont de Claix and Superdevoluy, French Alps, Saturday, June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, June 8, 2013 11:04AM EDT
SUPERDEVOLUY, France -- Spanish veteran Samuel Sanchez won the seventh stage of the Criterium du Dauphine race on Saturday and British rider Chris Froome kept hold of the yellow jersey with one stage remaining.
The 35-year-old Sanchez held off Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang to secure his 32nd career win and 97th podium place.
"I suffered a lot, especially in the last three kilometres", Sanchez said. "Fuglsang was very strong but I gave everything I had to beat him at the end. It's going to be wonderful for Euskaltel to start the Tour de France with this prestigious victory."
The 2008 Olympic champion and best climber on the 2011 Tour de France hadn't won a race since the Tour of the Basque country last year.
"We didn't get what we wanted from the Giro d'Italia, so it was good to keep going and come to here looking for something like this," Sanchez said. "I won't race the Tour (de France) this year. I need to take a rest. It means a lot to me and the team to win at the Dauphine. I dedicate it to my friend and teammate Victor Cabedo who died a few months ago."
Cabedo was struck by a car in his native Onda, near Valencia, while training in September 2012. He was 23.
Sanchez clocked a time of 5 hours, 26 minutes, 14 seconds over the mountainous 187.5 kilometres (116.3 miles) from Le Pont-de-Claix to Superdevoluy, with Fuglsang finishing in the same time and Australian rider Richie Porte 15 seconds back in third spot.
Two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador worked to help Rogers get on the podium by setting a pace that was too much for Rohan Dennis, who was third overnight but dropped down to ninth. The Australian was unable to stay with the leading bunch on the final 4-kilometre (2.5-mile) ascent up to the ski resort of Superdevoluy.
Froome has a comfortable lead in the standings, 51 seconds ahead of Sky teammate Porte and 1:37 clear of Australian rider Michael Rogers, who placed ninth in the stage to climb up to third spot overall.
"This is one more day towards achieving my goal," Froome said. "I know it's going to be another hard stage tomorrow, notably because we'll ride above 2,000 metres of altitude but I feel the situation is under control. It's going to be a tough finale tomorrow but Richie (Porte) has the legs to be there in the final climb. Hopefully we'll finish it off."