Thomas extends Dauphine lead going into final stage

Geraint Thomas

Thomas took the leader’s yellow jersey for the first time on stage five

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas extended his lead at the Criterium du Dauphine by finishing second in the French race’s penultimate stage.

Astana’s Pello Bilbao came through late on to win the gruelling 110km sixth stage, which featured four major climbs and a summit finish.

Thomas finished 21 seconds behind Bilbao but has increased his overall advantage to one minute and 29 seconds.

“I always felt in control, I always felt pretty good,” the Welshman said.

“However, I didn’t want to get too carried away on the final climb. It’s easy to underestimate how far there is to go and I didn’t want to go too early, die off and lose time.

“Obviously there’s a big day tomorrow as well, so I tried to do the minimum and then at the end, I just thought, ‘I’ll go for it and see what happens’.

“I managed to get a few more bonus seconds, which is good.”

Sunday’s seventh and final 136km stage ends in the ski resort of Le Bettex.

English rider Adam Yates, of the Mitchelton-Scott team, is second in the overall standings after finishing fifth on Saturday, while fourth for France’s Romain Bardet moved him up to third overall.

Meanwhile, BMC Racing Team won the opening stage of the Tour de Suisse in Frauenfeld, Switzerland.

The team completed the 18.3km team time-trial circuit course in 20 minutes and 18 seconds. Sunweb finished in second place in a time of 20:37, with Quick Step in third with 20:45.

BMC’s Stefan Kung was the first to cross the finish line, meaning he will take the yellow jersey when the team lines up for Sunday’s 155km second stage.

Criterium du Dauphine stage six result

1. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Astana Pro Team) 3hrs 34mins 11secs

2. Geraint Thomas (Wal/Team Sky) +21secs

3. Daniel Martin (Irl/UAE Team Emirates) +23secs

4. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) Same time

5. Adam Yates (Eng/Mitchelton-Scott) +26secs

General classification

1. Geraint Thomas (Wal/Team Sky) 20hrs 51mins 19secs

2. Adam Yates (Eng/Mitchelton-Scott) +1min 29secs

3. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +2mins 1sec

4. Daniel Martin (Irl/UAE Team Emirates) +2mins 30secs

5. Damiano Caruso (Ita/BMC Racing Team) +2mins 39secs

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