Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) defended his lead on the first mountain stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné despite the efforts of defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
Evans, who lost one minute and 43 seconds to Wiggins in Thursday’s time trial, went on the attack on the descent of the Grand-Colombier but Wiggins fought back with the help of his Sky team-mate to ensure he didn’t lose any time.
Arthur Vichot (FDJ-BigMat) broke away seven kilometres from the end of the 186.5km stage from Saint-Trivier-sur-Moignans to Rumilly and finished 26 seconds ahead of Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Dmitry Fofonov (Astana) to win the stage.
Defending Dauphiné champion Wiggins continues to lead Tony Martin by 38 seconds in the general classification with two stages remaining.
“We did what we had to do and once again we’ve defended the jersey,” said Wiggins
“There was a bit of bluffing going on from some of the local guys as we approached the top of the Colombier which caught us out a bit, but that was about it.
“They warned us that it was a dangerous descent but then went full gas and caused the bunch to split.
“Cadel and three of his guys managed to stay in that group and it was a bit of an error on our part. We rallied though and the team did an amazing job to close things down.
“Once we’d got them in sight I was feeling good so I finished the job off to ease some of the pressure on the rest of the boys. There were no problems in the end and it was a straightforward finish.”
Saturday’s 167.5km stage from Saint-Alban-Leysse to Morzine features the ascent of the Col de Joux-Plane, one of the key climbs in this year’s Tour de France, before a long descent to the finish.