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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Good morning, good afternoon, thanks for joining us today for the first stage of this year's Dauphine. It's a 121 stage starting and finishing in Champéry. And it's the first time the race has started in Switzerland.
You join us with a break of four riders up the road and 40 kilometres of racing completed.
The four leaders are David Veilleux (Europcar), Thomas Damuseau (Argos Shimano), Jean-Marie Bideau (Bretagne - Seche Environnement) and Ricardo Garcia (Euskaltel) and they have managed to build up an advantage of 8:20 over the peloton.
The first climb of the day, the Côte du Morgins, was at 12.5km into the stage with a long descent to the foot of the Col du Corbier. There is barely a section of flat road on this course and the descents are not straightforward either.
The parcours is perfect for a break to get away and stay away. Although anyone who has missed out on the escape won’t want to let them get too far up the road.
80km remaining in the stage with three categorised climbs so the advantage still lies with the peloton. There's actually one rider chasing on his won and in between the peloton and the four man break.
With no prologue the GC contenders in this year's race will be watching each other very closely today. Contador, Froome, Rodriguez line up as the top ranked favourites but there are plenty of other dangermen in the race.
At his pre-race press conference last night, Alberto Contador was quick to stress that the Tour de France is not about just two men (him and Froome) and the same can really be said for this year's Dauphine.
You can read Contador's comments, right here.
Meanwhile, Team Sky have been a little less cautious in their Tour de France predictions, with Shane Sutton stating that Froome is now the red hot favoutire for the Tour after Bradley Wiggins was ruled out though injury and illness. Here's Sutton's comments.
Do you think Froome really is the red hot favourite even though he's never won a Grand Tour or beaten Contador over three weeks? Let me know here, Twitter/dnlbenson
The gap to the peloton is now up to 9;40 with the lone rider at 6:55.
The lone rider is in fact Tony Martin from Omega Pharma QuickStep.
One quick plug, we've uploaded all our Giro d'Italia videos to our growing Youtube channel. You can see them all - and subscribe for free - right here.
Vacansoleil are currently setting tempo on the front of the peloton. The gap has now moved out to just over 10 minutes. The Dutch team, still looking for a sponsor, need a good result in the Dauphine. Thomas De Gendt and Westra are both here and will be under pressure to perform, even with the Tour still three weeks away.
On the matter of Dutch teams and sponsorship, reports came out yesterday that Belkin had signed on to sponsor the Blanco team for two and a half years, starting at this year's Tour de France.
Despite the reports there was no confirmation from the team. We called them this morning and they confirmed that they had nothing to announce at this stage and wouldn't comment on negotiations until they were ready. They didn't deny the story, which is important though.
You can read the news from yesterday, here.
Some help for Vacansoleil at the the front of the peloton with Orica GreenEdge starting to help with the pace of the peloton.
We've currently raced 44km.
GreeEDGE came into the race looking to race aggressively. They missed out on a stage at the Giro last month but have had a decent start to the year in fact.
With no GC rider to speak of on the team it's all about stage wins and Gerrans is perhaps the man most likely for them. Today's finish could well suit him if the peloton can shed the majority of the sprinters before the finale.
There was some good news from the Australian WorldTour team ahead of the race with Daniel Teklehaimanot making the trip to Europe.
The rider wasn't able to join his teammates at all this season due to visa issue but they've finally been resolved and he's racing today.
Tony Martin is still out there and on his own. He's 4'14 down on the leaders but around 4 minutes clear of the peloton.
There's certainly a lot more life in the peloton now with the gap down to under 6 minutes. There 52km to go and the leaders are on the slower slopes of the next climb.
Movistar has now joined the chase with Astana and Sky also deciding that it's time to position their leaders before they reach the climb.
There's a bit of panic at the back of the bunch already as the peloton hit the climb. Ian Stannard is right near the front and his job will be to hang on until a certain point in the race, perhaps setting the pace until the peak of the climb.
And Stannard, British national champion hits the front with Boasson Hagen also close by. Valverde is near the front for Movistar and he cant' be ruled out of either today's stage honours and the the overall GC. The break to the leaders has dropped to 5'40.
A touch of wheels at the back of the bunch but the riders involved are able to keep it together.
Valverde to letour: "I’ve recognised the end.The most important will be the positioning at the last curve with 150 metres to go." #dauphine
@mrconde Sun, 2nd Jun 2013 12:47:06
The Col du Corbier has some steep sections that approach 10 percent, as Voeckler moves up towards the front of the peloton. There are clearly some nervous riders out there.
Froome is trying to take his leg warmers off. One down, one more to go.
As the leaders have 3km left to climb.
Duggan has lost contact with the main field, Nikias Arndt too as Movistar now control the peloton with all their riders on the front. They had a great Giro d'Italia with four stage wins as Hushovd is also struggling.
Veilleux has attacked the break in a bid to pick up maximum points at the top of the climb. He's already got a decent gap but can he hold on?
Hushovd has a teammate setting pace for him but it's not a good sign to be in trouble at this stage. If he can keep contact with the back of the field he should be able to recover though.
Veilleux is on the steepest part of the climb as he pushes on towards maximum points.
The Canadian takes 15 points but back in the bunch De Gendt has been dropped and he's all alone.
A number of technical corners and sections on the descent but Veilleux is picking a fantastic line through each one.
Martin has gone over the top of the climb in second position, roughly two minutes down on the Europcar rider.
The bunch are now on the descent as well, with Movistar still controlling affairs. Froome is up there with two or three teammates, Contador too.
Veilleux still has two minutes on Martin but he's in the valley with a headwind. Martin should be able to take a minute here.
As Zubeldia needs a rear wheel change.
Veilleux still has 5'30 over the peloton with 38km to go.
Michael Rogers is leading Contador at the moment. The Australian will be a key component of Contador's Tour bid after leaving Team Sky very late in the year in 2012.
Veilleux is holding his own here. He has a gap of 5'24 with 32 km remaining.
Katusha have thrown a man on the front to help Movistar because the Spanish team havent been able to reduce the lead to Veilleux.
Veilleux still has 5 minutes but he's starting to climb now. We'll know if he can win the stage by the top of this climb.
The Canadian gets out of the saddle as he starts on the lower slopes as the bunch start to increase their pace. The peloton are slowly chipping away at the advantage.
Veilleux takes a bottle from the car and pushes on. He's lost around 20 second on the climb already
The descent towards the final climb will really help Veilleux and at the moment he looks a good bet for the stage. His lead has dropped slightly, it's down to 4'15 with 22km to go.
Damuseau and Garcia are still around half a minute behind the lone leader.
Europcar won the opening stage at Paris Nice this year. It looks like they could repeat the act here at the Dauphine.
Some of the cars are coming out from behind Veilleux. How close are the two chasers?
1km to go until the summit of the climb and Veilleux is rocking on the bike. His shoulders a clear indication that he's starting to struggle.
With the stage win probably gone Gerrans has slipped off the back of the peloton.
Veilleux goes over the top of the climb and has just 19km to go.
And Andrew Talansky is being dropped from the peloton.
As Tony Martin are about to catch Tony Martin.
Veilleux has 3minutes left on the bunch with the two chasers well over a minute down.
Boasson Hagen has also been dropped. He was many people's tip for today.
The biggest surprises being that De Gendt and Talansky have both been dropped.
Wet roads on the descent as the Canadian continues his push for a famous stage win in this race. He has just 14 km to go.
Boasson Hagen has made contact with the main field again.
10km to go for the lone leader. He still has a gap of 3'15 on the bunch.
Veilleux is onto the final climb of the, the third category climb to the finish.
5km of the stage remaining and Veilleux can almost start to enjoy his win. He has two minutes on the chase. Garcia and Damuseau have just a minute on the peloton though.
The Canadian is obviously starting to struggle but he's still on the big ring.
Veilleux will want every second here so he can hold onto yellow in the coming days.
Damuseau and Garcia are about to be caught by the peloton.
Ivan Santaromita has attacked from the peloton.
Veilleux has less than 1km to go.
He takes the final corner, sits up and takes the stage win and the yellow jersey.
Ivan Santaromita is still clear as he heads under the 1km banner.
But the BMC rider is caught with 500 m to go.
As Sky lead the peloton.
Gianni Meersman takes second place with a Blanco rider in third place.
Tom Slagter took third with Froome in fifth place.
1 David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar 3:17:35
2 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:56
3 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:01:57
4 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
6 Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard
10 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura
No time bonuses so GC remains the same as the stage result from today.
Thanks for joining us today. Remember you can find our report, images and results, right here.
We'll be back later today with live coverage from the Philly Cycling Classic.