LA ROSIERE – Team Sky's Welsh rider Geraint Thomas cemented his control of the Criterium du Dauphine after finishing second on Saturday's 6th and penultimate stage won by Spaniard Pello Bilbao.
Bilbao made his move late on during the gruelling stage that is almost the same as stage 11 in the Tour de France next month, with four major climbs and a summit finish at la Rosiere. Thomas came in second, managing to put further valuable seconds between himself and his rivals for the yellow leader.
Briton Adam Yates, riding for Mitchelton, is second overall, 1min 29sec behind Thomas. France's Romain Bardet, of AG2R, jumped to third from seventh overnight and is at 2min 01sec.
"It wasn't ideal but AG2R rode really well today, they really took the race on and put us under pressure," Thomas said.
"Fortunately we've got such a strong team that if one guy's not so good, another guy steps up. Tao and Castro (teammates Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jonathan Castroviejo) were really good today and fortunately we were always just in control. We never panicked - but fair play to AG2R for taking the race on."
Thomas added to ITV: "I always felt in control, I always felt pretty good, but I didn’t want to get too carried away (on the final climb). It's easy to underestimate how far there is to go and I didn't want to go too early, die off, and lose time.
"Obviously there's a big day tomorrow as well, so I tried to do the minimum and then at the end, I just thought 'I'll go for it and see what happens'. I managed to get a few more bonus seconds which is good."
Sunday's seventh and final 136km stage ends in the ski resort of Le Bettex after five climbs.