Etixx-Quick Step's Julian Alaphilippe came into the 2016 Criterium du Dauphine, off the back of his first general classification victory at the Tour of California last month, as one of the young riders to watch in the Tour de France dress rehearsal. The 23-year-old didn't disappoint as he rode to fifth place in the challenging 3.9km uphill Les Gets time trial to secure the first young rider jersey of the race.
"Now I'm more relaxed, but it wasn't easy out there, especially as it was for the first time that I rode such a prologue," Alaphilippe said of the Dauphine opener, won by Alberto Contador. "I think everybody suffered today, the climb was a nasty one, but luckily it suited me, so I could get this top 5."
Teammate Dan Martin also put in a good ride, finishing in fourth place, to ensure Etixx-Quick Step are well placed for a tilt at the general classification even if both riders are unsure of their overall aspirations. With several stages to come that will suit the sprinters before a weekend of uphill stage finishes, Alaphilippe added he isn't looking too far ahead but is looking to add to his Tour of California stage win before a likely debut at the Tour next month.
"I am happy for myself and for Dan, these results are really good for the team. Now I hope to have a good week and maybe go for a stage win at some point."
Julian Alaphilippe on his way to fifth in the Dauphine prologue in Les Gets (TDW Sports)
Maurits Lammertink seals Tour de Luxembourg victory
Maurits Lammertink secured the biggest win of his career with the Roompot - Oranje Peloton rider holding off a final day challenge from Philippe Gilbert (BMC) to win the Tour de Luxembourg. The 25-year-old was second on stage 4 to Gilbert, having also finished second in the prologue and stage 2, to claim his first overall victory. It has been a successful month of racing for Roompot - Oranje Peloton who also sealed overall victory at the Tour of Noway with Pieter Weening.
"The race developed in our favor. Then it was still exciting on the five climbs of the Pabeierberg, with attacks from Gilbert and number four in the rankings, Alex Kirsch, but I could always respond. We have never been in panic," Lammertink said of the final stage in a team press release.
Team manager Jean-Paul van Poppel explained it was a team performance that secured victory for Lammertink.
"After two days, the team worked hard to keep the yellow jersey in the team," van Poppel said. "Especially on Saturday, they delivered a performance at a high level when we had to respond to the attacks. Maurits' win does not surprise me, we knew he had this in him. It is nice that it comes out!"
Lammertink rode with Vacansoleil - DCM in 2012 and 2013, riding the 2013 edition of the Giro d'Italia, before moving onto Cyclingteam Jo Piels and then the newly created Roompot last year. He won his first race as a professional last year at the Tour du Limousin.
Following Boucles de la Mayenne overall victory, Bryan Coquard turns attention to Tour de France
Direct Energie's Bryan Coquard is enjoying career best from ahead of the Tour de France with his second overall win of the season at Boucles de la Mayenne and tenth victory of 2016. The 24-year-old won the 4 Jours de Dunkerque last month and has also taken wins at the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe and Etoile de Bessèges, and the one-day Route Adélie de Vitré. Coquard won the race by 15 seconds to Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo - Vital Concept) while teammate Thomas Boudat was third at 16 seconds.
With wins in the prologue and on stage 2, Coquard's focus in the final stage was to hold onto the leader's jersey rather than contest the sprint but was unsure of the outcome upon crossing the line
"When I crossed the line, I did not know if I had won," Bryan Coquard told Directvelo. "The day was very hard. From the beginning of the race, we were not the team to beat but to kill. Some obviously rode to make us lose."
"The finale of the stage was complicated. With two laps to go, Thomas [Voeckler] and Tutu [Angelo Tulik] began to close the gap to the breakaway. Then I made an effort 1.5 km from the line.
Having won just nine races for the entire 2015 season, Direct Energie already has 20 wins this season with Coquard praising the Pro-Continental outfit for its new found winning edge.
"I am very happy. The balance of Boucles de la Mayenne is super positive for the team Direct Energie and for me. It seems that the organizer is disappointed that I didn't do the sprint? I'm sorry if the spectators are disappointed too. Everyone plays with his strength ... Anyway, I am very proud to be part of this team. You can really trust us," he added.
Up next for Coquard is a recon of key Tour de France stages as he looks for a debut stage win in his third grand tour appearance.
"The job never stops: we leave tomorrow to do a recon of the stage of Tour de France that finishes in Limoges. We have already looked at the into Angers and we will later see the Normandy roads. The Tour is my big goal, not the French Championships," said Coquard who was second on the final stage of last year's Tour. "You have seen it, it almost looks like a mountain race!"
Criterium du Dauphine podcast - prologue
The Cyclingnews team will be bringing you daily podcasts from the Criterium du Dauphine all this week. The first dispatch from the Tour de France dress rehearsal features Cyclingnews editor in chief Daniel Benson and Procycling's Sam Dansie discussing the tough Les Get uphill time trial, won by Alberto Contador (Tinkoff). The duo caught up with Chris Froome (Sky), Richie Porte (BMC) and Dan Martin (Etixx-Quick Step)
Have a listen below and click here to subscribe to the Cyclingnews podcast.