What started out as a relatively routine, almost placid day at the Criterium du Dauphine, exploded into life inside the final few kilometres.
Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) boxed his way to victory ahead of Jens Debusschere and Sam Bennett, while Cofidis and Katusha fought for supremacy ahead of a finish that saw several riders touch shoulders and push the lines of leadout regulations to their limits.
Onlookers were even treated to the sight of Chris Froome (Team Sky) riding near the front in third wheel with just over a kilometre to go. Resplendent in the king of the mountains jersey, he almost paid for his actions, and was lucky to stay upright when the direction of the peloton suddenly changed.
For race leader, Alberto Contador, the day effectively ended a few kilometres earlier when his Tinkoff squad pulled off the front and guided their leader to the line. He finished 49th, in the same time as Bouhanni and with his race lead of six seconds over Richie Porte intact.
No frills and no risks was the order of the day, although the Spaniard was quick to point out that he and his team were unwilling to let any silly seconds slip through their fingers.
“We actually rode at the front and really fast so we could avoid falls, all the way until the final three kilometres,” Contador said at his post-stage press conference.
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