Rabon was unable to keep the pace on the HC climb, and while others tried to stay ahead such as Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (Orica-GreenEDGE), those riders in the break were eventually brought back from a charging group that included multiple riders from Team Sky, Movistar, and Saxo-Tinkoff. Garmin-Sharp rider Rohan Dennis was also there in the yellow jersey.
OPQS riders Gianni Meersman and Michal Kwiatkowski were in the elite group as they hit the foot of the final climb, and Kwiatkowski was able to stay with the group until about 5km to go. Eventually Kwiatkowski was unable to keep the pace, set at the front by Team Sky as Matthew Busche (Radioshack-Leopard) had gone ahead solo, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was behind trying to bridge.
Busche was able to stay ahead until about 300m to go, but a late race attack by Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) — who was bridged to eventually by Chris Froome (Team Sky) — resulted in the duo catching him and contesting the finish. Froome accelerated in the final meters to win with a small gap. Contador was 2nd, Busche 3rd.
Froome also took over the yellow jersey as Dennis lost contact with the elite group in the final kilometers. Kwiatkowski is now 8th in the GC, 1’58″ back.
“It was really hard, but you know every stage race after four or five stages there are big gaps,” Rabon said. “So, the goal was not to let a big group go. That’s exactly what happened from the beginning. But our guys wanted to be in the breakaway. I was near the front, so I think it was a good situation for the team as there were also no Sky or Garmin-Sharp riders in the group. So, our guys didn’t have to chase behind us. They could focus on Kwiatek and I was there to try and get a stage win because for me, it’s also nice as a worker to get such a chance. Being in the breakaway was a nice feeling. I tried to get the stage, but of course it’s a mountaintop finish. It’s always difficult, especially with the guys in that group. But, if you don’t try, you don’t know. I was a little disappointed with my time trial yesterday and am happy I fought back a little bit.”
“The plan was to have someone in the big breakaway from the beginning,” Kwiatkowski said. “Frantisek went perfectly, started in the front and he was in the breakaway. So, we could stay near the front all day without problems. The guys put me into position perfectly before the climb. I was just behind Sky. My teammates helped me a lot so I gave it my all. I am happy with my performance. I gave it my all but didn’t go over my limit. I’m looking forward to the next stages. I still have a bit of reserves in the legs. I’m happy about my condition and every day it’s getting better. So, we’ll see how we will finish this race.”