12 Jun 2016 - 8:04 AM  UPDATED 12 Jun 2016 - 8:46 AM

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) emerged victorious at the top of the Meribel ski resort climb to take the win in the sixth Stage of the Criterium du Dauphine after a short but action-packed display of racing at the French race. 

It was only a short stage at 141 kilometres, but the that didn't stop the other genereal classification contenders from trying to take race leader Froome's (Sky)  yellow jersey, with both AG2R and Tinkoff putting in concerted efforts to unseat the British rider from the top of the standings.

On the hors categorie climb of the day, the Col de la Madeleine, Pinot followed a move from his compatriot Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), who broke away to try his luck at going for the overall lead. That group joined up with the erstwhile breakawy riders and Bardet got a lot of help from his team-mates in the move, Ben Gastauer, Jan Bakelants and Mikael Cherel. 

After that move had gone, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) showed that he hadn't given up hopes of the overall win yesterday after ceding the race leader's jersey on the previous stage. He attacked on the Col de la Madeleine with Jesper Hansen and it required a superb ride from Froome's Sky team to bring him back.

Team Sky used up Wout Poels and Sergio Henao chasing the Spaniard down, which left them with just new recruit Mikel Landa on the final climb to Meribel. At that stage the front group containing Pinot and Bardet had two minutes and twenty seconds advantage at the bottom of the final climb, which would have out Bardet in yellow, but the concerted effort of Landa managed to drag the lead of the Frenchmen back to within the threshold Froome required to keep the leader's jersey.

Things might have been different if Bardet had not attacked fellow countryman Thibaut Pinot on the final ascent, as the FDJ rider had to fight for a long time to catch up to Bardet and then refused to help drive the pace. 

In the final few hundred metres of the race it was Pinot who was able to dig deepest in the final sprint to the line to take the win. Bardet followed just behind, hoping that Froome wouldn't be able to cross the line behind in time to retain the race leader's jersey.

Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) launched from the remnants of the peloton with one kilometre remaining, with only Froome able to follow and the Irishman ended up third and Froome in fourth managed to keep his yellow jersey heading into the final stage of the Dauphine. 

After the stage, the winner Thibaut Pinot was surprised that he recovered from poor legs mid-stage to take the win.

“I find it hard to realize what's happening because I only got good feelings at the end," said Pinot. "I was struggling all day. Had I been told in the climb to La Madeleine that I was going to win, I wouldn't have believed it.

"I was feeling average like the previous days so I didn't expect to do well here. I don't know what happened in the finale."

The FDJ rider called into question the tactics of his fellow Frenchman Bardet who looked to strike out on his own for both the stage win and the overall lead rather than cooperating with Pinot on the final climb.

"(If Bardet hadn't attacked), we could have done better, especially for Romain on GC but it's good to see two Frenchmen at the front. I'm happy, we've had our revenge after last year at the Tour de France in Mende (when Stephen Cummings overtook the two to take the stage win after the Frenchmen had been watching each other in the final kilometres).”

Race leader Chris Froome was relieved to retain his lead in the overall after the stage, citing the support of his team as the reason he managed to retain the leader's jersey.

“I've been put under pressure but the guys were super controlled," said Froome. "I really owe it all to my team-mates today, each of everyone of them emptied themselves for me to keep this jersey.

"The pressure started when Alberto [Contador] attacked on the Madeleine. We had to pull him back otherwise we'd be in trouble. And then even in the finale with (Romain) Bardet up front. At one stage he was going to get the yellow so my guys had to get that gap down.

"Then Dan Martin went to the line for third place. I just did everything I could to try and follow him. I was surprised to see there was a bit of a gap to Richie and Alberto.

"I definitely needed those extra seconds ahead of tomorrow. It would be amazing to win the Dauphiné for the third time tomorrow, especially in the build up to the Tour de France.

"But I don't take anything for granted. If tomorrow is anything like today, it's gonna be a really tough stage tomorrow again.”

The final stage of 151 kilometres to Superdevoluy is sure to see further challenges to Froome's leader status with a lot of climbing leading into the short climb to end the stage and the week-long race.

Sunday 12 Jun 2016