The 7th stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné (2.WT, 04-11/06) was another big day for Wanty-Groupe Gobert. In the 168 kilometers from Aoste to Alpe d'Huez, the riders had to conquer almost 4000 altitude meters over six climbs. Thomas Degand was part of an escape of 17 riders, in which the later winner Peter Kennaugh also was present .
The race started at Col de Sarenne (15.3km at 6.9%), a climb hors category. In front, the riders went full for a stage victory, and also in the group of favorites the pace was quickened. Guillaume Martin anticipated by accelerating in the yellow jersey group at 4 kilometers from the Sarenne Summit. In the descent he, and Thomas Degand, were caught by the favorites. On the final climb to Alpe d'Huez, Martin ranked 17th, thus keeping his 19th spot in the GC. Degand ended 37th and rises to place 30. In the day classification of the teams, Wanty-Groupe Gobert finishes 9th, in general, they occupy place 10.
"The pace wasn't very high in the peloton, so I decided to anticipate. It is better to attack than to undergo. You hurt yourself as much, but the pain feels more pleasant when you ride in front. I can't follow the best climbers yet, but I'm getting closer. By anticipating I can join them and keep the freshness.
In the last climb to Alpe d'Huez I felt well. I come close to the strongest, that was fun. If I were to be better placed, I might have been able to follow Froome in the end. It's a pleasure to look ahead! "
"The course was heavy so it was not easy to get into the break. First I was part of a group of 5 riders, then 15 and finally 17 riders. There was head wind for almost 60 kilometers, but we worked together to get as much time as possible. When we reached the foot of the Col de Sarenne, I chose to ride my own pace in order not to explode. "
"At the top of the climb I was caught up by the group with the favorites. I could still help Guillaume and put him in a good spot at the foot of the Alpe. That was not easy because the energy tank was almost empty. Then I rode my own pace to the line. I liked to show myself in the queen stage of this Dauphiné. I wanted to show that I have a place here and hope to be selected for the Tour de France. It was a successful day. "
Results stage 7
1. Peter Kennaugh
2. Ben Swift
3. Jesus Herrada
17. Guillaume Martin + 2 :30
37. Thomas Degand + 4 :47
41. Marco Minnaard + 7 :06
66. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck + 15 :57
68. Frederik Backaert
69. Yoann Offredo
78. Dion Smith
122. Pieter Vanspeybrouck + 31 :02
GC after stage 7
1. Richie Porte
2. Chris Froome + 1 :02
3. Jakob Fuglsang + 1 :15
19. Guillaume Martin + 5 :45
29. Thomas Degand + 11 :48
65. Yoann Offredo + 31 :34
66. Marco Minnaard + 32 :05
80. Frederik Backaert + 39:24
81. Dion Smith + 39:30
102. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck + 47:20
123. Pieter Vanspeybrouck + 1h00:16