Chris Froome ensured he will start the Tour de France on the back of Criterium du Dauphine victory, for the second time in three years, after winning the final stage and claiming the yellow jersey.
The Team Sky man started the day 18 seconds in arrears to BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen after winning stage seven, and wiped out exactly that deficit on the final climb to Modane Valfreujus.
Bonus seconds on the line ensured Froome took the yellow jersey, while it was a double celebration for British riders as Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) finished second on the day, to seal fifth overall and the white jersey.
Froome’s late attack had appeared inevitable, as once again Wout Poels laid the groundwork with a big dig on the front of the bunch before the Kenyan-born Brit accelerated.
Van Garderen had marked the initial move, but unlike earlier in the week the American could not catch Froome’s wheel as the Team Sky man spun a typically phenomenal cadence on the final part of the climb.
Earlier Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) had ignited the race, Der Panzerwagen attacking the day’s 13-man break after three of the six classified climbs had been tackled.
Martin’s efforts were enough to eke out a small lead, but the efforts of the day’s climbing took their toll as he was re-caught before the final climb – Britain’s Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) seizing the opportunity to attack instead.
The peloton, meanwhile, was led by Team Sky before Vincenzo Nibali – now riding for Astana team-mate Michele Scarponi – put in a big shift on the front to obliterate Cummings’ advantage.
Scarponi attacked with more than five kilometres but was caught, as an elite group formed at the front as a result of the accelerations.
Froome had Poels for support, while van Garderen and their other GC rivals were all isolated and the Team Sky man seized the initiative perfectly.
Van Garderen followed, but could not catch Froome as Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Yates caught the American.
As Froome celebrated, eyes turned to the clock which read 18 seconds exactly as Yates led Costa and van Garderen, in that order, across the finishing line.
For Costa it meant third place overall, and for Yates it meant the title of best young rider – 32 seconds better off than Romain Bardet.
For Team Sky, however, it is four wins in the last five editions of this race and for Froome, the perfect indication he is in fine fettle ahead of the Tour de France.
Criterium du Dauphine 2015: stage eight – result
1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 3.59.27hrs
2) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-GreenEDGE +18”
3) Rui Costa (POR) – Lampre-Merida – ST
4) Tejay van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing
5) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +28”
6) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale – ST
7) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Cannondale-Garmin +31”
8) Wout Poels (NED) – Team Sky +44”
9) Pierre Rolland (FRA) – Europcar – ST
10) Benat Intxausti (ESP) – Movistar
1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 30.59.02hrs
2) Tejay van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing +10”
3) Rui Costa (POR) – Lampre-Merida +1.16
4) Benat Intxausti (ESP) – Movistar +1.21
5) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-GreenEDGE +1.33
6) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +2.05
7) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Cannondale-Garmin +2.52
8) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +3.06
9) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +3.12
10) Andrew Talansky (USA) – Cannondale-Garmin +4.17