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Bonjour, welcome back to the Dauphiné. Today's first stage will take us on a bumpy road from Albertville to Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, ideal for any breakaway specialists. But the small gaps between riders on GC will mean a fast race, with a final Cat. 2 climb to finish things off.
Since the start in Albertville, the racing has been bery fast with many riders trying to jump away. After yesterday's prologue, 168 riders are all within a minute of each other and eager to make it into the limelight.
Jérémy Roy tried his luck at km 8, but was reeled back in.
Sven Vandousselaere (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) and Vincent Jérôme (Europcar) finally got away, they had 1.30 minutes over the bunch at km 25 and now have over six minutes advantages.
The trio has passed the second of four categorized climbs now, and lost a little time there. The gap has come down to four minutes.
At both KOM summits, it was small Colombian Leonardo Duqye from Cofidis who secured the mountain points. He's out to get the polkadot.
There are a total of four categorized climbs on the menu today (two of them are already done), as well as many small bumps added to the profile. They are:
Km 39.0 - Côte de Saint-André - 0.8 km @ 6.9 % - Cat. 4
Km 53.5 - Côte de Montagnole - 3.2 km @ 6.1 % - Cat. 3
Km 79.0 - Côte de la Bauche - 2.9 km @ 4.6 % - Cat. 4
Km 144.0 - Montée de Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse - 7.4 km @ 4.8 % - Cat. 2
The last climb looks to be harder than it is described on paper, though. It starts with 12 kms to go and apparently has a difficult final kilometre, perfect for strong finishers.
The first hour of racing was quite fast: 46.5 kms were covered. Now, the Rabobank team around overall leader Lars Boom is putting on a steady pace to keep the break in control.
Duque now has seven KOM points, with another three for grabs on the next climb, the Côte de la Bauche (Cat. 4).
Another ten points ar then awarded at the Cat. 2 summit finish.
The bunch; led out by Rabobank, is coming closer. Our three-man lead group has only 3.35 minutes left and there are still 76 kilometres to go until the finish...
The weather in South-Eastern France has been chaotic these last few days, with many thunderstorms. It is reasonably warm here in the Alps today, with temperatures rising to 21°C in the finish but a few clouds in the sky that could easily shed some water - in the mountains you never really know.
Duque again took the points on the third climb of the day, the Côte de la Bauche. That gives him a total of ten points until now.
The three have maintained their advantage and even increased it a bit to four minutes.
If the Cofidis rider wants to wear the polkadot jersey tomorrow, he either has to get at least one other point in the final climb, or hope that today's winner also takes over the yellow jersey as he could then replace him for the polkadot.
Susan jumping in now, to take you to the finish line.
Boom has a chat in with a teammate. He is quite colourful today, in yellow, orange and blue.
Looks like the field is about at the bottom of this climb. Only one more to go, and that is at the finish.
The gap is holding steady at just under three minutes.
This will be the second stage finish in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse. The final stage of the 1988 edition ended here.
46km to go, and the gap is down to under two and a half minutes.
Looks like Duque is having some cramps. Or perhaps he is trying to avoid them. At any rate, he is doing some leg stretching exercises.
Jerome picks up a bidon from the team car.
Jerome picks up a bidon from the team car.
Christian Knees is here, a Sky rider in a white jersey! That's because he is the German champion.
Rabobank is firmly in control. They dominate the head of the peloton, and are bringing the gap slowly down, now at 2:01.
We still have lovely sunshine today, and about 19°C.
The gap continues to fall, and is now under two minutes.
A Sky rider has moved up to the Rabo line and is having a chat with one of their riders. Is it not really so entirely friendly, or are we imagining things?
Duque gets a visit from the team car. There is a lengthy conversation with much gesturing.
Grischa Niermann, the German veteran on Rabobank, is at the head of the peloton and pulls them along. As he has done so often before....
Thomas Voeckler didn't safety pin his numbers on very well. They are rather flapping in the breeze.
Astana and BMC are right behind Rabobank in the peloton.
Quite a goodly number of people out along the way. We just passed a school, with lots of kids hanging over the fence waving.
Liquigas is now visible up there in the mob right behind Rabobank.
The gap has now fallen to one minute, and the field is one km behind the three leaders.
On a flat stage, we would say the field is catching the break group too early -- 50 seconds with 21 km to go. But this is not a flat finish.
The closing climb is about 7.5 km long and a category two climb. It is also supposed to be more difficult than one might think.
The gap has jumped back up to over a minute.
And the gap is down again to only 47 seconds.
Duque calls for another bidon.
Looks like the break is finally coming to an end. The gap is down to 30 seconds.
The field is very close now, and the three leaders are up and riding furiously to try to stay away. But to no avail.
The three shake hands and wait to be overtaken by the BMC-led field.
The pace is high here. BMC and Rabo wouldn't mind dropping a few riders from other teams over the next few kms.
Tjallingii of Rabobank has done his duty for the day. He has dropped to the rear of the field.
This is a a very pretty climb up through the forest, with lots of stone cliffs.
Things are definitely going up now....
An attack! From HTC-HIghroad. Looks like Sivtsov.
A number of riders are quietly falling off the back of the field now.
Van den Broeck has now moved up to join Sivtsov.
One of those who has fallen out of the field is the King of the Mountains....
Saxo Bank's NIcki Sorensen is trying to gap up to the two leaders. The gaps aren't large here.
Voeckler is the next to jump.
The French championis now with the leaders, making it a trio.
Ivan Basso is one of many behind the field.
The three leaders are slowly building up a gap over a field of, oh, 40 or 50 riders. We have had a lot of fall-out here.
Must be warming up. Van den Broeck has opened up his jersey to catch a breeze.
ANd who else has fallen out of the chasing peloton? Yellow jersey Lars Boom....
Sivtsov has been caught, and the field is rapdily approaching the remaining two. Voeckler takes off again.
This is not Tony Martin's race. He too is no longer with the main group.
The chasing field has shrunk to 20 or so, and they have Van den Broeck and Voeckler (now togehter again) in their sights.
We know for sure that Vinokourov and Evans are in this group.
Now Van den Broeck takes off.
Another Europcar rider gives chase.
Nicki Sorensen gives chase, too.
Van den Broeck is really flying along here.
Sky leads the chase group which is now down to 10-15 riders. They have caught Sorensen.
Van den Broeck has a significant lead now.
Brajkovic is also in the chase group.
The last km for Van den Broeck!
Looks like the Belgian will take the stage.
He looks over his shoulder just to be sure no one has popped up behind him.
Sorensen has been caught, and a Katusha rider gains a meter or two over the field.
Who else but Purito Rodriguez....
Looks pretty steep for Van den Broeck here. But he has it.
First win this season for Van den Broeck! Rodriguez second at about eight seconds.
We imagine riders will be trickling in for a while here...
Evans was third. Both he and Rodriguez were six seconds down.
The yellow jersey crosses the line, over 2:20 down. Who will pull it on in a few minutes?
That is not just Van den Broeck's first win this season -- it is his very first pro win!
Alexander Vinokourov is the new leader! He was fourth on the stage, but combined with his top placing from yesterday, it was enough to move him to the top of things!
Vino now leads by five seconds over Van den Broeck in second, with Evans third at seven seconds. Fourth is Wiggins, with Boasson Hagen in fifth overall.
Oops, let's see if we can't tidy that up a bit....
1Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 3:36:42
2Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:06
3Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:07
4Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana
5Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
6Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:09
6 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
7Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:13
8Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
9Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:15
10Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioShack
General classification after stage 1
1Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 3:43:09
2Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:05
3Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:07
4Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:11
5Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:09
6 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:13
Thanks for joining us and be sure to come back tomorrow for more. See you then!