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Rui Costa wins stage 6 at Dauphiné


Rui Costa wins stage 6 at Dauphiné

The Critérium du Dauphiné is one of the most important races to properly prepare for the Tour de France. This is why TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA has decided to field a high-quality team in order support captain Rui Costa. The Portuguese rider honored this trust by winning the demanding sixth stage. At the beginning of the stage race Sacha Modolo sprinted to podium finishes twice.

With a team time trial, three relatively easy stages and four really hard stages, the Critérium du Dauphiné has everything that a real acid test for the Tour de France needs. On the first two days Sacha Modolo as TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA’s designated sprinter missed out on a stage win narrowly. At the end of the first stage he won the bunchsprint but could not avoid the solo victory of Brit Peter Kennaugh. One day after this 2nd place, Modolo sprinted to a 3rd place wearing the points jersey. But on the same evening Sacha Modolo decided to abandon the race and to return to Italy due to a serious health condition of a close relative.

In the third day’s team time trial TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA showed an appealing performance: Thanks to the pacing of strong rouleurs such as Ruben Plaza and Nelson Oliveira the team only conceded 47 seconds to the fastest time of the day, finishing the stage in 8th. At the end of the 4th stage the riders in blue, fuchsia and MERIDA green were no factor in the bunch sprint, and on the following day both Rui Costa and Rafael Valls only lost contact to the fastest competitors on the last couple of kilometers of the final ascent leading up to Pra-Loup. Valls conceded one and a half minutes and Rui Costa conceded almost two minuted to the winner. But for the Portuguese this was no reason to forget about his overall ambitions.

On the sixth day Rui Costa found four strong allies in the pouring rain on the way to Villard-de-Lans - Vercors. Despite the fact that this lead group never got a whole lot more than three minutes as a cushion, these riders made it all the way to the finish to battle it out for the stage win. In the finale Frenchman Toni Gallopin was the first to attack before Vincenzo Nibali counterattacked on the penultimate kilometer. The Italian rider already looked to have the stage win in the bag, but Rui Costa managed to bridge the gap on the final kilometer aboard MERIDA’s new SCULTURA, and on the ascending finishing straight he managed to distance Nibali and celebrate what was the first victory of his season. With this stage win Costa also moved up to 2nd in the overall standings, and with Rafael Valls another rider of TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA finished within the top15 after a strong performance.

On the day before Rui Costa’s stage win the one-day race GP Gippingen was held in Switzerland. Six riders formed the group of the day and rode in the lead for most of the race before everything came back together on the penultimate lap. A late attack from local hero Silvan Dillier got neutralized as well and so the win was to be contested in a bunchsprint in Gippingen. In this sprint Alexander Kristoff proved to be the strongest. By finishing in 4th Niccolo Bonifazio added another top5 result to his and TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA’s tally.

67th Critérium du Dauphiné

Stage 1: Ugine - Albertville, 132km

1. Peter Kennaugh, GBR, in 3:06.51 hours
2. Sacha Modolo, ITA/TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA, + 0.02
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen, NOR, st

Stage 2: Le Bourget-du-Lac - Parc des Oiseaux Villars-les-Dombes, 173km

1. Nacer Bouhanni, FRA, in 4:23.46 hours
2. Samuel Dumoulin, FRA, st
3. Sacha Modolo, ITA/TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA, st

Stage 6: Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur - Villard-de-Lans - Vercors, 183km

1. Rui Costa, POR/TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA, in 4:29.23 hours
2. Vincenzo Nibali, ITA, + 0.05
3. Alejandro Valverde, ESP, + 0.38