American rider Andrew Talansky has won the Criterium du Dauphine, holding off two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador after a gripping finale on the eighth stage.
The 25-year-old Talansky was in tears after it was confirmed he had won the race, when Contador crossed the line more than a minute after him.
“You put your whole life into something,” Talansky said.
“The sacrifices, the training, there are times you crash or you’re sick, you miss your family and it’s the moments like this that makes you forget all that. This is why we do this, for moments like this.
“It was a very hard start and we had Ryder Hesjedal on the front and I rode up to him. He sacrificed himself for me all day. We didn’t know if it would work but it was the perfect opportunity and we had to try.”
Talansky was fourth on the day, seven seconds behind stage winner Mikel Nieve on the 131.5km trek from Megeve to Courchevel.
Contador was 27 seconds behind in the overall standings, with Jurgen Van den Broeck eight seconds further back in third.
Talansky had started the day in third place, 39 seconds behind Contador, who had an eight-second lead over defending champion Chris Froome.
Froome crossed the line more than five minutes behind Nieve, to finish the race 12th overall.
The Dauphine is regarded as the warm-up for the Tour de France, but Talansky – who finished 10th in the Tour last year – was quick to deny he is now a favourite for the prestigious race.
“I still wouldn’t say that,” he said. “This is the Dauphine, the Tour is a different race, but I hope to have a great ride.”