Chris Froome maintains Dauphine lead as Jan Bakelants wins stage

Chris Froome suffered cuts and abrasions to his left shoulder and elbow
Chris Froome suffered cuts and abrasions to his left shoulder and elbow

Britain's Chris Froome retained his lead of the Criterium du Dauphine despite crashing late in stage six.

The 2013 Tour De France winner came off with 7.6km to go, but remains 12 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador and Wilco Kelderman with two stages left.

"On the descent there was a hole in the road, I hit it and lost my front wheel," said Froome.

Belgium's Jan Bakelants won by less than a wheel from Lieuwe Westra of the Netherlands after a sprint finish.

The pair were followed over the line by a breakaway group 24 seconds later, with Zdenek Stybar, an Omega Pharma - Quick-Step colleague of Bakelants, claiming third place.

The peloton, containing Contador and Kelderman, allowed the defending champion to return and finished more than four minutes behind Bakelants.

Froome suffered cuts and abrasions to his left shoulder and elbow, but did not appear to be seriously hurt at the end of the 178.5km stage from Grenoble to Poisy on Friday.

"It is quite painful but I was OK to finish the stage. I am just a little bit grazed for tomorrow," Froome added to the Team Sky website.external-link

"It is more just my hip, elbow and shoulder, but more than anything I just want to thank the other riders for neutralising the race. That is really big of them - good sportsmanship."

Saturday's seventh stage heads back into the high mountains and the 160km race from Ville-la-Grand ends with a summit finish at Finhaut-Emosson.

Stage six result:

1. Jan Bakelants (Bel/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) 4:07:20"

2. Lieuwe Westra (Ned/Astana) ST

3. Zdenek Stybar (Cze/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) +24 secs

4. Pim Ligthart (Ned/Lotto Belisol)

5. Jens Keukeleire (Bel/Orica GreenEdge)

6. Jens Voigt (Ger/Trek)

7. Maciej Bodnar (Pol/Cannondale)

8. Bram Tankink (Ned/Belkin)

9. Valerio Conti (Ita/Lampre)

10. Julien Simon (Fra/Cofidis)

Overall standings after stage six of eight

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 23:12:15"

2. Alberto Contador (Spa/Tinkoff - Saxo) +12 secs

3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Belkin)

4. Andrew Talansky (US/Garmin Sharp) +33 secs

5. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel/Lotto Belisol) +35 secs

6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) +50 secs

7. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa/Trek) +1:22"

8. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana)

9. Adam Yates (GB/Orica GreenEdge) +1:24"

10. Tanel Kangert (Est/Astana) +1:35"