Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas earned what he described as the biggest win of his career as he took the Critérium du Dauphiné title after fellow Briton Adam Yates had claimed the final stage of the warm-up race for the Tour de France.
Britain’s London 2012 team pursuit gold medallist suffered in the final kilometre of a gruelling final 136 kilometres concluding stage that featured three punishing ascents.
The stage from Moutiers to Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc was the fourth and final mountain stage of the race, giving a final chance to the field for a breakaway to take the glory from Thomas.
The stage distance was relatively short but it included seven categorised climbs and over 4,000 metres of climbing.
But, despite suffering two punctures the 32-year-old Welshman managed to finish fifth, 19 seconds back.
That was enough for him to retain the leader’s jersey with a one-minute lead over Yates overall.
It was Thomas’s second International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour stage race victory after he won Paris-Nice in 2016.
“It’s the biggest win of my career,” he said in Saint-Gervais after pulling on the yellow jersey for the final time.
“It’s a massive race.
“Since London 2012, I really focused on the road and improving all the time and this is just an incredible victory for me.”
Yates, riding for Mitchelton-Scott, attacked several times in the stage finale and managed to overtake Spain’s Dani Navarro on the last curve of the final climb to Saint-Gervais, in the French Alps, just about 50 metres from the finish line.
He won in 3 hours 51min 34sec.
Navarro finished second, four seconds back, with France’s Romain Bardet completing the podium, nine seconds off the pace.
Meanwhile, in the second stage of the Tour de Suisse, Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria, riding for Quick Step Floors, opened his final sprint too soon and allowed Slovakia’s world champion Peter Sagan to claim his 16th stage win in this race.
Sagan crossed the line in 3:50:09 in a race that is also part of the UCI WorldTour.
Gaviria held on to claim second place, with Australia’s Nathan Haas of Katusha-Alpecin taking third place.
Sagan, riding for Bora-Hansgrohe, is now fifth in the early general classification, 20 seconds behind the leader, home leader Stefan Kung of BMC Racing, who is on 4:10:24.