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Froome retains Dauphine lead despite late crash

(Reuters) - Briton Chris Froome suffered a late crash on the sixth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on Friday, but he retained his overall lead with two stages remaining.

Jan Bakelants from Belgium won the 178.5km stage from Grenoble to Poisy after a breakaway, but the real drama came late on in the peloton where Tour de France champion Froome crashed on a high-speed descent.

The Team Sky rider was forced to change bikes, but worked his way back to the peloton which had slowed after hearing that the race leader had crashed.

A bruised Froome remains 12 seconds ahead of Spain's Alberto Contador, who will be one of his main rivals at the Tour de France which starts in England next month.

"I had a bit of a crash in the final. Obviously, it is quite painful, but I was OK to finish the stage," Froome told Team Sky's website. "It looks OK, I am just a little bit grazed for tomorrow. It is more just my hip, elbow and shoulder.

"More than anything, I just want to thank the other riders for neutralizing the race. That is really big of them – good sportsmanship."

Bakelants (Omega Quick-Step) had broken away with a group of 16 riders - none of whom were a threat in the general classification. By the finish it was just Bakelants and Dutchman Lieuwe Westra (Astana) in a sprint to the finish.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Tim Collings)

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