By Ian Gordon
Geraint Thomas climbed up the standings as the Criterium du Dauphine headed into the mountains for a decisive weekend.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider – who had moved up to sixth after a stunning win on stage five on Thursday – finished 11th on Friday’s 167.km battle from Loriol-sur-Drome to Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse.
Thomas is now fourth overall just 13 secs adrift on new overall leader Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) with two stages left.
The Cardiff-born rider won the Dauphine in 2018 on his way to his historic triumph at the Tour de France later in the summer.
It was a tough old day at the #Dauphine 😵💫
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) June 4, 2021
Thomas’s team came close to grabbing another late stage win at the Dauphine with Tao Geoghegan Hart finishing a close second.
Last year’s Giro d’Italia winner accelerated hard heading into the final 300 metres, with Thomas letting the wheel go behind.
The Brit opened up a gap, but fast-finishing Alejandro Valverde launched off in pursuit and was just able to take the stage. Thomas finished in the same time.
Thomas is using the race as he completes final preparations for his bid to regain the coveted Yellow Jersey on Le Tour later in June.
Stage Six Top 10
1. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar), in 5-52-53
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr)
3. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar
6. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
7. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
8. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation
10. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma,
11 Geraint Thomas (GB) Ineos Grenadiers all at same time
Top 10 Overall
1. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech, in 20-52-16
2. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech, at 8s
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 12s
4. Geraint Thomas (GB) Ineos Grenadiers, at 13s
5. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM, at same time
6. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 15s
7. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 27s
8. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious, at 34s
9. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 39s
10. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Movistar, at 42s