French rider Thibaut Pinot won Saturday’s sixth and penultimate stage of the Criterium du Dauphine with Britain’s Chris Froome holding the race lead going into the final stage.
FDJ rider Pinot, 26, snatched the stage win ahead of countryman Romain Bardet, 25, after the 141km run from La Rochette to Meribel in the French Alps.
Sky’s Froome crossed fourth 1min 04sec off the pace just behind Ireland’s Dan Martin to hold the yellow jersey going into the final day’s racing on Sunday.
Bardet’s AG2R La Mondiale outfit put in concerted effort to ensure the team leader arrived at the foot of the final 12.3km climb with a 2min 45sec advantage on the first peloton.
Bardet attacked a first time at 10km before being joined by Pinot with the two countrymen battling for supremacy to the line.
Froome slightly increased his overall advantage to 21 seconds on Australian Richie Porte and Bardet.
Froome, 31, won the Dauphine in 2013 and 2015 — and each time went on to ride to victory in the Tour de France.
Sunday’s final stage covers 151km from Pont-de-Claix to the Alpine ski resort of Superdevoluy, with a 7.5km climb less than 12km from the line.
Results and standings after stage six of the Criterium du Dauphine from La Rochette to Meribel on Saturday:
1. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 4hr 24min 16sec (average: 32 km/h), 2. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) s.t., 3. Dan Martin (IRL/ETI) à 1:04, 4. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 1:07, 5. Louis Meintjes (RSA/LAM) 1:15, 6. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 1:15, 7. Diego Rosa (ITA/AST) 1:17, 8. Adam Yates (GBR/ORI) 1:17, 9. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/ETI) 1:21, 10. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC) 1:21
1. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 25hr 50min 22sec, 2. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC) at 21sec, 3. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 21, 4. Daniel Martin (IRL/ETI) 30, 5. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 35, 6. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/ETI) 56, 7. Adam Yates (GBR/ORI) 1:02, 8. Diego Rosa (ITA/AST) 1:18, 9. Louis Meintjes (RSA/LAM) 1:35, 10. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 2:12
– Agence France-Presse