Bradley Wiggins wins Criterium du Dauphine

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Critérium du Dauphiné – stage seven: Moreno takes stage; Wiggins seals second overall victory

Bradley Wiggins has become the first man to win Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné in a single season.

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) celebrates overall victory in the 2012 Criterium du Dauphine

Wiggins successfully defended his Criterium title after  finishing nineteenth on the 126km final stage from Morzine to Châtel.

The Ghent-born Londoner crossed the line 10 seconds behind the stage winner, Daniel Moreno, who continued an excellent season for the Russian Katusha team.

Wiggins said the pressure of starting as favourite made his second consecutive victory in the event more satisfying.

“Last year I didn’t come into the race as the favourite so to do that this year and know from day one, from being second in the prologue, that I was one of the favourites, it’s a better and harder way to win.

“Obviously we’ve had a few goes at it now so I think we’re getting better at it if anything. It’s probably gone better than the other races have gone this season, it’s been a lot smoother.”

He thanked his teammates, singling out Edvald Boasson Hagen, who sprinted to victory at the end of the 167km third stage from Givors to La Clayette, as one who had made “a huge difference” throughout the week.

The win was Wiggins’ third major triumph of the season, following victory in March at Paris-Nice and at the Tour of Romandie in April.

Daniel Moreno (Team Katusha) celebrates victory on stage six of the 2012 Criterium du Dauphine

“It’s certainly getting easier each time, not in terms of the effort but in terms of staying cool at the right moments and knowing what to do and when to do it,” he said.

He will now focus on the biggest race of his career, the 2012 Tour de France; a race he will now start among a select group of favourites.

Wiggins’ victory capped a fine team performance from Team Sky that saw Michael Rogers finish second, Chris Froome fourth, and Ritchie Porte ninth.

Reigning Tour de France champion, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), finished third on the final stage and third overall.

The Australian’s form improved throughout the race and he rode aggressively in the latter stages in a bid to recoup the 1.43 lost to Wiggins in the stage four time trial.

Evans was gracious in defeat to the Englishman.

“I came here to try and win, but I was beaten by a better team and a better guy,” he said. “It was a week of hard racing and a good bit of training toward July and hopefully my big form of the year so far.”

Moreno, Evans, and Rabobank’s Luis Leon Sanchez contested the sprint at the end of a grueling final stage that included five categorized climbs, including the first category Col de Corbière.

Sanchez appeared to have the victory, but Moreno surprised him in the closing metres to add another win to his team’s impressive season, following Joaquim Rodriguez’ victory at La Fleche Walloone, and second overall at the Giro d’Italia.

Moreno praised team leader, Denis Menchov, and Petr Ignatenko, for their support, and pledged to ride strongly in August’s Vuelta a Espana.

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Critérium du Dauphiné – stage seven result

1) Daniel Moreno (SPA) – Katusha – 2.59.37
2) Luis-Leon Sanchez (SPA) – Rabobank
3) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing
4) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Team Sky
5) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA) – AG2R La Mondiale
6) Pieter Weening (NED) – Orica-GreenEDGE
7) Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) – Lotto Belisol
8) Dries Devenyns (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
9) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky
10) Michael Rogers (AUS) – Team Sky +7”

General classification

1) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky – 26.40.46
2) Michael Rogers (AUS) – Team Sky + 1.17
3) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing + 1.26
4) Christopher Froome (GBR) – Sky Procycling +1.45
5) Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) – Lotto Belisol + 2.12
6) Vasil Kiryienka (BLR) – Movistar +2.58
7) Janez Brajkovic (SLO) – Team Astana +3.07
8) Wilco Kelderman (NED) – Rabobank +3.26
9) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky +3.34
10) Haimar Zubeldia (SPA) – Radioshack-Nissan-Trek +3.50

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