Opening mountain stage splits the bunch into only 40 riders, including Amador, Kiryienka –now 11th and 12th in the GC- and Arroyo before Saturday's Queen stage. Cobo withdraws
The first of three Alpine stages -theoretically the easiest- in the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné became a maneuver of debilitation through the 186 kilometers between Saint-Trivier-sur-Moignans and Rumilly. The early ascents towards Corlier (Cat. 2), Le Grand Colombier (HC) and Richemond (Cat. 3), the latter one 45k from the end, cleared the peloton and left a group of just over forty riders that was not able to reach the day’s long breakaway of nine cyclists, with Frenchman Arthur Vichot (FDJ) jumping with 5k to go for the win.
The main group was made by Movistar Team’s Vasil Kiryienka, Andrey Amador and David Arroyo, the Blue group also featuring Rubén Plaza and Colombian Nairo Quintana until the final kilometers. However, the 22-year-old South American rider suffered a rear wheel puncture with 20k to go. Briton Bradley Wiggins (SKY) is still on top of the GC –with Amador in 11th and Kiryienka just behind him in 12th place- with two stages remaining: the short, yet hard ride on Sunday towards Châtel (with three climbs in the final 35k) and the Queen stage on Saturday: 167km from Saint-Alban-Leysse to Morzine with five categorized climbs before the definitive ascent towards the mythical Joux Plane (HC), just 12 kilometers from the arrivée.
Those slopes won’t be reached by Juanjo Cobo, who put an end into his course halfway through the race. “I don’t know really well what happened, but I was completely empty,” explained the Spaniard minutes after giving up. “I had trained hard in Sierra Nevada for the last weeks and my sensations were good, as well in there during the days I had to take a bigger effort as in the first stages here. However, I felt really bad yesterday at the time trial, and I saw myself not doing well either right from the start today. My feelings were of total emptiness, not having any strength at all, and you can’t do anything about that. I came here in good motivation and will try to stay positive, because I did a good work in the previous weeks and performed well in the beginning of the race. What happened later is not normal. Now it’s time to recover and keep training hard to improve.”