Richie Porte extends Criterium du Dauphine lead

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"I'd still say that Richie was far and above the strongest man in the race", Froome said.

The onus would be on Froome and Fuglsang to take it to Porte, with the victor of the Dauphiné often carrying a mental edge into the Tour de France. We planned it very well with Fabio attacking (with Alejandro Valverde in the col de la Colombiere) and everything went in our favour.

Porte, who had lost ground on the penultimate ascent, clawed his way back, but he came up just short, leaving Fuglsang to celebrate his biggest victory.

"I think I showed in the final that I was fine".

Three-time Tour de France champion Froome finished fourth overall, one minute and 33 seconds off Fuglsang and one second behind Quick-Step's Daniel Martin, who was third overall.

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This time around, he made clear that he was building up more slowly in order to be stronger in the final week of the Tour de France, and so his third overall suggests he is at a better general level than 12 months ago.

"I leave this week with confidence". "I gave it my all out there and at the end of the day I'm happy with my result, but also with how I raced here this week, because I had a different approach than in the past".

With 10 kilometres to go it was Froome in the virtual lead as Porte sat over a minute behind him, but the BMC Racing rider dug deep and summoned the strength to eventually catch the Briton.

Last year's Tour runner-up Romain Bardet of France ended up sixth, showing good form on the climbs after a disappointing time trial earlier this week.

The Tour de France starts on July 1 from Duesseldorf, Germany.

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