News: Critérium Dauphiné Stage 1

Wout Van Aert continues to stun the cycling world with his third win in four races on stage 1 of the Critérium Dauphiné

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News: Critérium Dauphiné Stage 1

Van Aert continues his winning ways with victory in first stage Dauphiné


Wout van Aert has continued his impressive victory march. The 25-year-old Belgian, who has already won Strade Bianche and Milan-SanRemo this month, won the opening stage in the Criterium du Dauphiné. After 218 kilometres, Van Aert was the fastest in the sprint of a reduced peloton and claimed the tenth season victory for Team Jumbo-Visma.

Early doors, five riders slipped down the road in the early kilometres of the stage and their advantage stood at 4’30” by the time they reached the second climb of the day, the Col du Beal.

The gap eventually went out to a maximum of 5’30” before the peloton pegged them back to a more manageable distance by the halfway point. A crash amongst the breakaway then reduced their numbers to two, and just one rider remained with 55km to go. The gap continued to fall steadily before a number of counter attacks were launched out of the peloton as the race crossed the finish line for the first time.

The rapid tempo back in the peloton saw the attackers reeled in with 15km to go, with Team Jumbo-Visma controlling the head of the race. After the breakaway was caught and Tony Martin had finished his work, Robert Gesink and Sepp Kuss increased the pace at fifteen kilometres from the finish line. The high speed being set proved to be too much for several riders. The day was looking set for an uphill sprint for the win until a number of attacks were launched with three kilometres remaining.

However, Van Aert meanwhile was brought into an ideal position for the sprint by Steven Kruijswijk, Tom Dumoulin and Primoz Roglic. Impey battled his way into position under the flamme rouge, but the Tour de France stage winner was forced the long way round a tight left hander as Van Aert opened up the sprint.

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“The dream continues”, Van Aert said. “I was still quite tired after Milan-San Remo. So I did not immediately see this victory coming. Although I did have the mindset to go for it. I had also indicated that in the meeting yesterday and also during the stage.

The boys did a fantastic job. It also indicates how we function as a team and what the atmosphere is like. When riders like Tom Dumoulin, Steven Kruijswijk and Primoz Roglic are working for you, it certainly gives you extra motivation. This is a very nice victory and it also was a perfect situation for us. So, as you can see, it works both ways. On the one hand we want to keep our GC guys in the front and on the other hand I still had the opportunity to do my own sprint. So you see, when the opportunities arise, I certainly will not hesitate to seize them. I will definitely enjoy riding in the yellow jersey tomorrow.”

Dumoulin was full of praise for his teammate. “This is really great. It is nice to achieve this together. Wout wanted to go for it this morning and this stage was a great opportunity. We were at the front on the final climb and Primoz and I countered the necessary attacks. Luckily, I still had enough energy left for a lead-out after Steven continued to pull to the top of the climb. I think I did a lead-out of about eight hundred metres. It is very special that Wout finishes it off like that.”

Daryl Impey: “Everyone is pretty iffy at the moment with how they’re feeling, I think a lot of guys, it’s their first race back. For me I actually felt pretty good, so I backed myself a bit for the end there and I actually had a good feeling. To lose to Wout, it’s ok, it would have been nice to beat him. But to walk away with second today on quite a hard day, it’s really nice.

“For the final run in I knew I needed to be close enough to Wout, so I had Bernal and Kwiatowski between me. I tried to take a run on the right and they also went right, so I kind of lost my speed, I came around them but Wout already had a bit of a gap. I was running up, catching him a bit, but he was too strong.”

Michal Kwiatkowski: “It was great to be back at the front again. The most important thing now is to get the group to ride together and get used to it again. No one has forgotten how to do it, but it’s good to remind ourselves before the Tour starts how we should ride and where the key moments are in a such a hectic, key stage like today.

“At the end of the day if you’re a rider as classy as Egan it is easy to position yourself in the bunch, but of course it’s a nice bonus when he can sprint for third and take some bonus seconds. We’ll see how the recovery after each stage will be and from here there are just under three weeks until the start of the Tour. We’re all ready to race.

“I wish I could have done a stage race before Strade. It was a bit stressful and some pressure came from not knowing about your shape or that of your rivals. I was always there across those three races, but being in the game and then going for a win is still a huge difference. There was always this strange, almost junior feeling where you don’t know what to expect from those races.”

Diego Ulissi (UAE) on the finish: “When you get this close to winning and you can’t take it, you are left with regret. The team was fantastic, they were close to me in key moments trying to close the gap on Bennett after I tried to fight back on the last climb, having not had the legs to follow the New Zealander. My teammates were great in reducing the gap, then on the last climb I went from very far out to try to bridge across, but I didn’t make it. The condition is good, I hope a victory will come soon”.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE): ”It was a tough stage and very hot and humid also. I suffered a bit but in the end I had good legs but just maybe not the best position. There were many contenders to be in the front but that is to be expected with the level of riders here. So I just focused to be in the best position for the sprint. I didn’t get quite in the right position but top-5 was okay”.

Stage 1
1. Wout Van Aert Team Jumbo – Visma 05:27:42
2. Daryl Impey Mitchelton-Scott
3. Egan Bernal Team Ineos
4. Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
5. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates
6. Alexey Lutsenko Astana Pro Team
7. Sergio Higuita EF Pro Cycling
8. Benoit Cosnefroy AG2R La Mondiale
9. Primoz Roglic Team Jumbo – Visma
10. Guillaume Martin Cofidis

12. Nairo Quintana Team Arkea-Samsic
13. Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck-Quick Step
15. Warren Barguil Team Arkea-Samsic
18. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale
19. Thibaut Pinot Groupama-FDJ
21. Daniel Martin Israel Start-Up Nation
22. Tom Dumoulin Team Jumbo – Visma
26. Geraint Thomas Team Ineos
28. Richie Porte Trek-Segafredo
31. Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott
42. Hugh Carthy EF Pro Cycling @ 00
86. Chris Froome Team Ineos @ 05:23
93. Peter Sagan Bora-Hansgrohe @ 07:23
111. Mark Donovan Team Sunweb @ 11:51
124. Tejay Van Garderen EF Pro Cycling @ 14:57
128. James Knox Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 15:02

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