The Critérium du Dauphiné’s opening stage finished in spectacular fashion with breakaway rider Rune Herregodts (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) coming agonisingly close to denying the peloton victory, only to be caught 25 metres from the line by Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) at the head of a reduced bunch. Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) was next across the line, with Herregodts hanging on for third.
- Chapeau to the Dauphiné organisers whose route created a thriller of a first stage. In fact, one look at the whole race parcours is enough to get the pulse racing; while there are a number of the Tour de France-esque stages you’d expect from the ASO’s own tune-up race, even the few flat finishes come at the end of an imaginative route that has drama written all over it.
- With a five-rider breakaway up the road, Jumbo-Visma and Bora-Hansgrohe had control of the peloton until the hilly finishing circuits, which included the category-four Côte du Rocher de l’Aigle, a significant hurdle for the fast men, and by the same token, a great opportunity for those better suited to lumpy terrain. This is where Soudal Quick-Step showed their cards by bringing Julian Alaphilippe to the front and eating into the gap with ferocious efforts from Dries Devenyns and Mauri Vansevenant in particular.
- Herregodts and Dorian Godon (AG2R-Citroën) were the last riders standing from the breakaway with 11km to go, and Godon – winner of an attritional Brabantse Pijl this spring – finally let go when the Jumbo-Visma-led peloton came within six seconds of making the catch. Herregodts went over the KOM moments later and pushed on on the descent. It fell to Jumbo-Visma to lead what remained of the bunch for the last 10km, and as they entered the last kilometre several seconds in arrears, Jonas Vingegaard was the last man left at Laporte’s disposal.
- The peloton had moved from sharp shadows to heavy rain and back throughout the day, which added more than a little risk to the country lanes, and on the run-in to the finish in Chambon-sur-Lac. Rune Herregodts almost came a cropper in a left-hander with 2.5km to go – the combination of rain and brand-new tarmac made for a dangerous corner – but he was able to stay upright and continue his time trial to the finish.
- There were a number of crashes in the first half of the stage with Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hugo Page (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) coming off worst, both forced to log DNFs, along with Antwan Tolhoek (Trek-Segafredo) who could really do with some good luck some time soon.
- Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma)
- Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates)
- Rune Herregodts (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty)
- Axel Zingle (Cofidis)
- Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny)
GC after stage 1:
- Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma)
- Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) +4s
- Rune Herregodts (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) +6s
- Axel Zingle (Cofidis) +10s
- Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) st.
Today was a day for the GC favourites to stay safe. Some, like Vingegaard – right at the front of the bunch is a good place to be – Richard Carapaz, Egan Bernal, Jai Hindley, David Gaudu, Adam Yates and defending white jersey winner Tobias Halland Johannessen, finished on the same time as Laporte, but not all were so lucky (or so vigilant). While his teammate Matteo Jorgenson stayed out of trouble, Enric Mas finds himself already 15 seconds down, but he’s better off than Mikel Landa who’s facing a deficit of 22 seconds.
A little further in arrears at 35 seconds are former Giro d’Italia pink jersey-wearer Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) and 19-year-old contender for ‘future of French cycling’ Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ).
The eleventh-hour catch:
- A classic breakaway move: at the top of the final climb of the day and with 11km to go, the gap to now lone-leader Herregodts was only a handful of seconds, but with mixed intentions in the bunch behind – GC riders wanting to stay safe and out of trouble on the fast, damp descent, and stage hopefuls running out of matches to burn – the young Belgian went all in. With a pick of lines and nothing to lose, his gap bounced back out over 15 seconds on the way into Chambon-sur-Lac. Maybe that late wobble in the closing kilometres cost him some confidence, maybe he could have done with an extra body to share the load, but one thing’s for sure: he’s not to be under-estimated.
- Alaphilippe looked knife sharp as he bobbed and weaved in the wheels as his teammates worked to grind down the gap in the penultimate lap. The Frenchman is still seeking to prove himself 14 months after his horror crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2022, at least in the eyes of his team boss, and while he’s moved on from yellow jersey potential, there are a host of stages that suit him both at the Dauphiné and next month’s Tour. So when the likes of Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) – along with Soudal Quick-Step sprinter Ethan Vernon – dropped off the back on the classified climb, Alaphilippe’s team put all their eggs in one basket and went hard on the front of the bunch. Their work brought the breakaway back within reach, but presumably they didn’t count on an additional furious chase in the last 10km. With only Andrea Bagioli, Florian Sénéchal and Alaphilippe left for the finale, all of them potential stage winners, they were unwilling or unable to help Jumbo-Visma in the race to the line, and their best result was seventh for Bagioli. Did they work too hard too soon?
Quote of the day:
The quote of the day comes from the rider of the day, the man who put the peloton on notice and forced a furious chase that didn’t end until literally the last few metres.
“I knew this stage was an opportunity for the breakaway,” Herregodts told Cycling Pro Net. “There are often many opportunities for attackers in the Dauphiné, especially on this course. We got away with a strong group, but we didn’t get much of a lead and had to go full throttle early on. One by one my fellow escapees let go, but everyone gave 100%.”
His means of escape played out perfectly for the 24-year-old.
“The goal was to get over that steep climb solo,” he said of the Côte du Rocher de l’Aigle. “Then suddenly I grabbed ten seconds and still had energy left to give. I heard I had fifteen seconds at two kilometres. ‘This was possible’, I thought at the time.
“I gave everything and therefore I cannot be disappointed.”
Social media review:
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