CHATEL, France (AFP) –
Britain’s Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins won the Criterium du Dauphine for the second year running here Sunday, as Spain’s Daniel Moreno won the final stage.
Wiggins’ triumph capped a fantastic race for his Team Sky, who had three of the top four riders in the general classification.
Australia’s Michael Rogers finished second, 1min 17sec behind Wiggins, while Briton Chris Froome was fourth at 1:45.
Evans was third overall, 1min 26sec adrift of Wiggins.
Sky sports director Sean Yates said he was delighted the team had come in and achieved what they had set out to do.
“It’s been a great effort by the team and a fantastic week. We couldn’t have asked for more,” he said.
“We came into the race with a clear plan which was to try and win it and obviously Bradley came up with the goods which was mighty impressive. He had a fantastic team to back him up.”
After paying tribute to his teammates, Wiggins said he was reassured to have defended his title.
“I think it’s always harder to do it a second time,” he admitted.
“Last year I didn’t come into the race as the favourite so to do that this year and know from day one, from being second in the prologue, that I was one of the favourites, it’s a better and harder way to win.
“Obviously we’ve had a few goes at it now so I think we’re getting better at it if anything. It’s probably gone better than the other races have gone this season, it’s been a lot smoother.”
Evans, a four-time runner-up, had lost most of his time to Wiggins in Thursday’s 53.5 km time trial, leaving the Australian with no choice but to attack in the remaining stages in a bid to close the gap.
“I came here to try and win, but I was beaten by a better team and a better guy,” admitted Evans.
“It was a week of hard racing and a good bit of training toward July and hopefully my big form of the year so far.”
The breakaway trio of Jerome Coppel, Pierre Rolland and Alexandre Geniez were all reined in by the leading members of the peloton 2.5km from the finish line.
Moreno then edged out versatile Rabobank rider Sanchez in the sprint for the line to take his second stage of the week after his victory Tuesday in Saint-Felicien.
Wiggins’ second successive victory is the third for a British rider in the 64 editions of the race, after Robert Millar (1990) and Brian Robinson (1961).
The 32-year-old Londoner seized the overall lead on Monday’s first stage and all but assured victory after his performance in Thursday’s time-trial in Bourg-en-Bresse.
This was an eighth win of the season for the triple Olympic track champion, who will now be among the leading contenders to win this year’s Tour de France, which starts in Liege, Belgium, on June 30.
Yates added: “The Tour de France is on the horizon. It’s a lot more complicated as a race but we’re where we want to be, in a good position and looking forward to it.
“The riders need to recover from this and keep the legs turning. You’re not going to improve your condition between here and the Tour.
“It’s only around the corner. Going in as one of the favourites is going to be a lot of hard work.”