Thomas cements Dauphine pole as Bilbao wins stage READ MORE

Briton Thomas takes Dauphine lead as Ireland's Martin wins stage

The 32-year-old Thomas, victor of Paris-Nice in 2016, is coming into form at just the right time with the Tour de France a month away.

Saturday's stage is nearly the same as the Tour de France stage 16 with four major climbs on the menu and a summit finish at la Rosiere. "I explained to Geraint that of course, we're riding hard to win the stage". Team Sky's Geraint Thomas was second over the line, with UAE Team Emirates' Daniel Martin in third.

Thomas would normally expect to be a domestique for four-time champion Froome at the Tour but victory at the Criterium against potential Tour contenders, coupled with the uncertainty surrounding Froome's adverse analytical finding from a drug test previous year, means the Welshman could yet be riding for his own glory next month.

The race is a good indicator of form heading into the Tour de France, which takes place from 7-29 July. Froome has won the Dauphine before each of his four Tour victories.

Yates' victory was his second on the WorldTour this season, after also winning a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico, as he powered clear of Thomas and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in the final 200m.

Froome, 33, a four-time Tour victor is involved in an ongoing anti-doping case after giving an adverse result in a test at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana.

The attacks has been pulled back during a fast start. This shot from race organiser ASO shows what it is like out on the road
The attacks has been pulled back during a fast start. This shot from race organiser ASO shows what it is like out on the road

However, he was found to have double the allowed level of the drug in his urine.

"Ive been feeling good all year", the Irishman said after the race.

"It's not a great situation for him, the team or just cycling in general", Thomas said. The guys rode really well for me.

"Each kilometre I was more confident and happier". I just made that final move towards the end.

Having been the last man standing in support of Thomas, meanwhile, Tao Geoghegan Hart climbed to 13th overall to follow his fifth place in support of Egan Arley Bernal's Amgen Tour of California win last month.

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