Chris Froome escaped to a summit solo victory in the Criterium du Dauphine on Saturday but Tejay Van Garderen goes into the last stage wearing yellow after clinging to the Sky man’s tail.
The 2013 Tour de France winner Froome, 30, left Van Garderen with a kilometre of the fifth category 1 climb remaining, with a series of well-timed accelerations that saw him beat the American by 17 seconds.
Van Garderen then goes into Sunday’s last stage with a slender overall lead of 18 seconds over the Sky man and 45 seconds over third placed Benat Intxausti of Movistar.
“My tactic was just to mark Froome and when he went, there was no way I could follow him,” admitted Van Garderen after the race.
“But I’m very happy with the yellow jersey.”
Friday’s stage winner and overnight leader Vincenzo Nibali had a bad day on Saturday finishing four minutes adrift of Froome after difficulties on the penultimate hill.
Sunday’s final stage ends with a summit finish at Frejus, an 8.4km climb at a 5.7% gradient that may just see the yellow jersey change hands again.
Leading results from the seventh stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, a 155km ride from Montmelian to Saint-Gervais on Saturday:
1. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 4hr 24min 17sec, 2. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) at 17sec, 3. Louis Meintjes (RSA/MTN) 41, 4. Benat Intxausti (ESP/MOV) 41, 5. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 54, 6. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 1:08, 7. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 1:15, 8. Andrew Talansky (USA/CAN) 1:25, 9. Rui Costa (POR/LAM) 1:34, 10. Daniel Navarro (ESP/COF) 1:45
17. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 2:02, 24. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 3:58
1. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 26hr 59min 27sec, 2. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) at 18sec, 3. Benat Intxausti (ESP/MOV) 45, 4. Rui Costa (POR/LAM) 1:10, 5. Simon Yates (GBR/ORI) 1:29, 6. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 1:39, 7. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 1:45, 8. Daniel Martin (EIR/CAN) 2:29, 9. Andrew Talansky (USA/CAN) 2:39, 10. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 2:46
– Agence France-Presse