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Moncoutie wins stage as Valverde keeps lead

  • Story Highlights
  • David Moncoutie gains victory in mountainous stage seven of Dauphine Libere
  • Overall contenders Cadel Evans and Alejandro Valverde finish third and fourth
  • Valverde holds narrow 16-second lead over the Australian ahead of final stage
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(CNN) -- Frenchman David Moncoutie delighted the watching spectators with victory in the mountainous seventh and penultimate 157km stage of the Dauphine Libere from Briancon to Saint-Francois-Longchamp on Saturday.

Moncoutie held on to finish first in the mountainous seventh stage of the Dauphine Libere.

Moncoutie held on to finish first in the mountainous seventh stage of the Dauphine Libere.

Moncoutie was part of an initial breakaway and he attacked again at the foot of the final climb of the day to finish 40 seconds ahead of Dutchman Robert Gesink with Cadel Evans back in third.

Controversial Spaniard Alejandro Valverde remains the overall race leader after finishing fourth, in the same time as Evans, after remaining on the Australian's wheel throughout the final ascent -- despite intense pressure from the Silence-Lotto rider.

The pair, along with third-placed Alberto Contador, stayed together until 2007 Tour de France champion Contador lost ground in the final 500 meters, losing 14 seconds to now lie one minute, 18 seconds behind Valverde -- who remains just 16 seconds ahead of Evans overall.

Valverde is currently banned from riding in Italy -- which means he cannot compete in the Tour de France which enters Italian soil this year -- and could still face a worldwide two-year ban if cycling governing body UCI acts upon evidence the Italians claim shows the Spanish rider was implicated in the Operation Puerto doping scandal.

Moncoutie, who also won a stage in the Tour of the Mediterranean this year, told the official race Web site: "This is a prestige win, because it contained famous climbs like the Galibier and the Croix de Fer.

"I won my first professional race in this event 10 years ago, so this was a nice way to celebrate," added the Cofidis rider.

Sunday's 146km final stage from Faverges to Grenoble is also mountainous and Evans will still harbor some hopes of overtaking Valverde in what could be a thrilling finish to the race.

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