The Belgian champion, winner of the 1st and 5th stages, finished 12th, 32 seconds behind the winner. Overall, Van Aert keeps 1:03 on Matteo Cattaneo (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and 1:06 on his teammate Primoz Roglic.
“The objective of the day was to defend our position in general”, declared Wout van Aert at the microphone of the organizers. “It was a long day and we’ve been riding up front all week already. We wanted to leave a nice breakaway and be a little quieter in the final. But it was a breathless start with a lot of attacks. And in the final, some teams still wanted to play the stage but it was too late. For us, everything went as planned. I’m not climbing too badly, it hasn’t stopped going up and down all week, but it will obviously be different tomorrow. A new race starts and we have Primoz (Roglic) who is very good”.
The Critérium du Dauphiné will enter its decisive chapter with two mountain stages to end this 74th edition. Saturday, from Saint-Chaffrey, two out-of-category passes, the Galibier and the Croix de Fer await the runners before the final ascent to Vaujany (2nd category, 5.7 km at 7.2%)