Criterium du Dauphine

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Thomas ‘all OK’ after crash, set for Tour de France

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BASEL, Switzerland — Geraint Thomas says he is “all OK” after crashing in the Tour de Suisse cycling race and is optimistic about defending his Tour de France title next month.

The British rider says in a Twitter post he hit his head and needed stitches above his eye after hitting the road with about 30 kilometers (18 miles) left in the fourth stage of the nine-day race in Switzerland.

Thomas, who was forced to withdraw from the race, says it “just means I’ll need some big training rides next week” as he prepares for the Tour de France, which starts July 6.

Thomas rides for Team INEOS, who lost four-time Tour champion Chris Froome to a season-ending accident last week in the Criterium du Dauphine.

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Fuglsang upsets favorites to win Criterium du Dauphine

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BRIZON, France — Jakob Fuglsang upset all favorites to become the first Danish rider to win the Criterium du Dauphine on Sunday.

The Astana rider attacked on the final climb to the Plateau de Solaison in the French Alps, a grueling 11.3-kilometer (7-mile) ascent at an average gradient of 9.2 percent, to win the 115-kilometer (71.5-mile) stage and leapfrog overnight leader Richie Porte.

Fuglsang beat his Australian rival by 10 seconds thanks to the time bonus awarded to the final stage winner.

“It’s amazing. I don’t know what to say,” Fuglsang said. “Even with (the) jersey I can’t believe it. I’ve been close to the yellow jersey many times in my career. We tried to keep our positions on the general classification and it came down to a big, big fight for the overall victory.”

Fuglsang dropped Ireland’s Dan Martin on the last climb and rode on his own through the final five kilometers, asserting his credentials less than a month before the Tour de France starts.

He will be sharing the Astana leadership with Fabio Aru during the three-week race in July.

“I tried to keep cool all day and without pushing too much, I went for the stage win and I got it all,” he said. “My wife is waiting for a baby. This great victory is for her. There’s still a long way to the Tour but I’m really happy with my condition now. I’ll have to take it easy onto the Tour.”

Three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome, who lost ground on the final climb, finished fourth overall, 1 minute and 33 seconds off the pace and just one second behind Martin.

Fuglsang wins thrilling stage 6 at Criterium du Dauphine

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LA MOTTE-SERVOLEX, France — Danish cyclist Jakob Fuglsang won the first mountain stage of the Criterium du Dauphine race in a thrilling finish on Friday, while Australian Richie Porte took the overall lead ahead of archrival Chris Froome with two stages remaining.

Stage six was a 147.5-kilometer (91.5-mile) slog from Le Parc des Oiseaux Villars-les-Dombes. It featured a grueling climb up Mont du Chat near the end, followed by a downhill finish to La Motte-Servolex.

Fuglsang attacked first heading into the last kilometer, but was caught by Porte, Froome and Italian Fabio Aru — who is Fuglsang’s Astana teammate.

In a pulsating charge to the line, Fuglsang held them off for a notable victory given the caliber of the opposition.

“It’s amazing to find yourself in front alongside two favorites for the Tour de France,” the 32-year-old Fuglsang said. “It’s great to win here for the first time.”

Porte finished second, with Froome third ahead of Aru.

“I’d be lying if I said I’m happy with third place. I battled hard for the stage win,” Froome said. “I worked a bit too hard in the last kilometer to chase down Fuglsang, and I started my sprint from way too far out.”

All four got the same time of 3 hours, 41 minutes, 48 seconds.

Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde was dropped on the big climb and finished fifth, 50 seconds behind.

The 32-year-old Porte is 39 seconds ahead of three-time champion Chris Froome — his former right-hand man at Team SKY — and 1:15 clear of Fuglsang in the standings. Despite losing time, Valverde is dangerously poised at 1:20 back in fourth.

Overnight leader Thomas De Gendt of Belgium paid for his lack of climbing ability and dropped down to 30th place, more than eight minutes behind.

Froome, who is the same age as Porte, is looking to win the race for the third straight year and fourth time overall. His first win here came in 2013, the year he went on to win the first of his three Tour titles. He also won the Tour in 2015 and ’16, mirroring his results at the Criterium.

Froome and Porte will battle it out again in the mountains on Saturday, on a famed climb they both know very well.

Stage seven, starting from Aoste, is over 168 kilometers (104 miles) and ends with an ascent of Alpe d’Huez — a climb with huge status on the Tour.

Sunday’s eighth and final stage is another fearsome mountain trek, with three big climbs and ending with an ascent of Plateau de Solaison.

Whoever comes out on top by Sunday will be confident of victory at the Tour, which begins on July 1.

“I’m pretty happy to be at the top with Richie, he’s in unbelievable form. He’s the best climber at the moment,” Froome said. “The Tour de France isn’t too far away now. I still have a bit of work to do, but I’m on the right track.”