Critérium du Dauphiné: Zimmerman wins stage 6 amid GC stalemate

Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) won stage 6 of the Critérium du Dauphiné to Crest-Voland after a battle to the line with Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) as race leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and his overall rivals saved their legs for the weekend’s showdown in the mountains.

Zimmermann was part of a 14-rider breakaway that got away after a super-fast start to the stage into the Alps. He emerged with Burgaudeau and Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers) on the Col des Aravis and then attacked solo on the final Côte de Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe.

Burgaudeau went deep to catch him with 500 metres to go and even made an attack but Zimmermann had a last shot in his legs and surged clear to win. Burgaudeau was close to tears after the stage but had a consolation prize: the lead in the mountains classification and the blue polka dot jersey.

Vingegaard attacked in the final kilometre of the 170.2km stage to test his rivals but was kept in check and finished safely in the GC group to keep the leader's yellow jersey. He has a firm grip on the yellow jersey and did not seem concerned to have just Tiesj Benoot working for him on the climb to the line.

"Someone else started the show, Tobias Johannessen did a good attack and made it really hard. I was thinking of making a counter-attack but in the end, the climb was not long enough or hard enough to make the difference and selection," Vingegaard explained.

"I think my team did super well. They worked really well and I had teammates even until the final, so I can be satisfied and happy with how everyone did today and yesterday."

Vingegaard leads Ben O'Connor (AG2R-Citroën) by 1:10, with Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) third at 1:23 but will stay vigilant in the high mountains.

"I think they'll be super hard stages, they're long mountain stages, so hopefully I'll feel good," he said. "I'm looking at the whole top ten, you can't give space to anyone. You have to look at everyone and not let any gaps go."

Zimmermann's victory was just the second of his career and his first WorldTour level, and will surely secure his selection for the Tour de France. He was part of the break on stage 5 and spent 166 km on the attack, clocking a total of 273 km out front in two days.

"I can't believe it at this moment, I just gave my best and tried everything to be as good as possible, it worked out perfectly," he said. "Yesterday I felt strong but it didn't work out and today I tried again and like I gave it everything.

"I knew the parcours really well because in 2018 there was a finish up here in the Tour de L'Avenir and I was in a similar situation but the favourites sprinted around me with 200 metres to go. Today it was the other way round, I could attack on the climb and go full gas and in the end take the sprint, I'm completely speechless."

Zimmerman insisted he was never concerned about Burgaudeau catching him with 500 metres to go.

"I'm an optimistic person, I never fear to lose, I always hope to win," the German rider said. "Second place is also a nice result so I don't fear to get second. I just give my best and today it was good enough to win a stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné."

How it unfolded

The first day in the high mountains took the Critérium du Dauphiné into the Alps. The 170.5km stage to Crest-Voland included some early hills and then climbed high via the Col des Aravis, and then up to the finish via the Côte de Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe. It was a day for a breakaway but also the first mountain stage for the overall contenders to clash horns.

Sprinter Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AIUIa) was confirmed as a non-starter, with teammate Rudy Porter, Donavan Grondin (Arkéa-Samsic), Natnael Tesfatsion (Trek-Segafredo) and Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan) all soon quitting the race too.

There was an intense battle to try to get in the break and the average speed for the first hour was a jaw-dropping 53 kph as attack followed attack.

On the Côte de Clermont-en-Genevois after 43km, a group of 18 riders got away but no sooner were their names confirmed that the peloton reacted. The 18 were caught with 100 km to race but another attack of 14 riders soon formed, including some of the earlier move.

The 14 were: Nans Peters (AG2R Citroën), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Andrea Bagioli and Dries Devenyns (Soudal-QuickStep), Andrey Amador (EF Education-EasyPost), Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Axel Zinglé (Cofidis), Lawson Craddock (Jayco-AlUla) Mathieu Burgaudeau, Matteo Vercher and Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies) and Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa-Samsic).

They opened a three-minute lead with 50km to go but the final climbs were bound to change the race, shake out the break and reveal the GC riders' ambitions. Team DSM joined Jumbo-Visma in controlling the attack as Trentin took the points at the intermediate sprint in Saint-Jean-de-Sixt.

The Col des Aravis is only officially 7.8km long but the road starts to climb much sooner and shook out the break. The rouleur was the first to fade, including Campenaerts and Vuillermoz. At 4.5km from the summit, Zimmermann surged clear and was joined by Burgaudeau and Castroviejo as the rain came down.

The three worked well together, keen to hold off the rest of the break and the peloton and fight for a stage victory. They dived down the descent to the foot of the Côte de Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe and the peloton seemed to have lost their chance.

Vingegaard had just Benoot to protect him on the final climb after some work by Attila Valter, but he decided attack was the best form of defence and tested all his rivals in the final kilometre.

The 2022 Tour de France winner initially got away with O'Connor but the other GC contenders got back to him before the sprint to the line.

Saturday's 147.9km stage climbs the Col de la Madeleine, the Col du Mollard and then up further to the 2066 metre-high Col de la Croix de Fer.


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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.

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