Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 1 of the Criterium du Dauphine.
The riders are already off rolling through a neutral section before starting out on the 192 kilometres route from La Voulte-sur-Rhône to Beauchastel.
Today's first stage will be solely based in the Ardeche region and is predominantly hilly with a flat finale.
Imanol Erviti (Movistar) has crashed before the race start and is being tended to by race doctors. We're still in the neutral zone and it's possible they may stop to wait for him at KM 0.
The pace has come to a crawl to make sure Imanol Erviti gets back on before officials start stage 1.
The bunch is coming to a halt at KM 0.
And we have a real start to the first stage of the Criterium du Dauphine! Imanol Erviti is back in the pack after requiring medical service in the neutral service. We have 154 starters in today's stage.
The attacks have started out of the bunch to try and form the early breakaway, but the bunch is nervous and nothing is allowed to escape for the moment.
We're at the bottom of the first climb of the day. Niklas Märkl (Team DSM) looks to already be in difficulty.
Hugo Page (Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux) and Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels - KTM) have a little separation as they make their way up the lower slopes of the Cat. 2 Col de Leyrisse, but the bunch is reacting.
Niklas Märkl (Team DSM) is the first rider to abandon the Dauphine.
Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels - KTM) has crept off the front solo and has about 30 seconds and others are attempting to bridge with 5km to the KOM.
Maxime Bouet (Team Arkéa - Samsic) is in the gap at 25 seconds. Rolland is extending his lead to 45" as he approaches the top of the Col de Leyrisse, a 10km Cat. 2 climb.
Laurens Huys (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) has joined Maxime Bouet (Arkea-Samsic) in pursuit of Rolland. They're about 30 seconds back. The peloton is at 1'35" as they reach km 20.
It looks like Rolland is waiting up for the two chasers after the climb. Soon we'll have three leaders.
170km to go
Results of the first KOM at Col de Leyrisse (Cat. 2):
1. Pierre Rolland - 5
2. Maxime Bouet - 3
3. Laurens Huys - 2
4. Ben Thomas - 1
The gap to the breakaway is 2'30" with 168km remaining in the stage.
The gap is increasing to 3 minutes as BikeExchange move to the front of the peloton to set the pace.
And Jumbo Visma are also showing interest in the front of the bunch, sending one rider up to set pace with BikeExchange.
BikeExchange and Jumbo Visma were quick not to let this breakaway gain any more time, and are are keeping a close eye on the trio. Current gap is 2'35 with 156km to go.
After all that time spent getting back into the peloton after a crash during the neutral portion of today's stage, Imanol Erviti (Movistar Team) has decided to abandon after all.
The breakaway is on the approach to Côte des Baraques (Cat. 3). It's 3.4km long and averages 6.6 percent.
We've been racing for 1 hour, and the average speed of the leaders so far is 37.6kph.
Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels - KTM) collected two points at the top of Côte des Baraques, and Maxime Bouet (Team Arkéa - Samsic) was second for 1 point to add to their KOM standings.
145km to go
The leaders have reached km 50. Bike Exchange and Jumbo Visma are keen to keep this trio at just around 2'20.
Read about how Ben O’Connor “inspired” by Hindley’s victory in Giro d’Italia by Alasdair Fotheringham. The Aussie is back racing following a break of just over a month after winning the Tour du Jura one-day race and completing the Tour du Romandie in fifth overall.
The bunch is starting to experience a little bit of drizzle on course, but the temperatures are still warm at 23 degrees Celsius.
But the tailwind must be nice as they ride through a quieter section of the route. The leaders have 22km before they see Côte du Chambon de Bavas (Cat. 3) for the first time.
110km to go
After two hours on the road, the average speed of the leaders is settling into around 39.3kph. The gap to the leaders is 1'50.
On the approach to the next climb, the gap is dropping even more to 1'40". Bike Exchange and Jumbo Visma are still in the lead of the peloton.
The leaders - Maxime Bouet (ARK), Laurens Huys (IWG) and Pierre Rolland (BBK) have started the circuit, and close to the base of Côte du Chambon de Bavas (Cat. 3).
Kevin Colleoni (Team BikeExchange - Jayco) and Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma) are the two riders doing all the work at the front of the peloton. We're about halfway through the race, and the lead trio is cresting the top of the third KOM of the day.
Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels - KTM) scoops up the two points available at the top of Chambon. Huys follows for 1 point.
The gap is still sitting at 2 minutes with less than 90km to go in the stage.
Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM) currently has nine points in the KOM competition with one category 3 climb left today. He's set to be in the polka-dot jersey by the end of the day.
80 km to go
McNulty is coming back through the cars after getting service for a puncture. More rain is falling on the peloton.
Team Bike Exchange are pinning their hopes on a stage win for Dylan Groenewegen today, and have the majority of the team working on the front keeping the gap at 2 minutes. Jumbo Visma has one rider helping.
The gap is down to 1'45" for the breakaway trio with 75km to go. The peloton definitely doesn't want any surprises today.
We're in the third hour of racing, and the average has remained steady at 39kph.
The leaders are inside 5km to the intermediate sprint at Beauchastel.
Jumbo Visma still has Chris Harper up at the front of the bunch making friends with the Bike Exchange team. The Dutch squad has come to the Dauphine with a deep roster - it'll be interesting to see what they can do this week.
Maxime Bouet (Team Arkéa - Samsic) sprints for the intermediate points and gets across the line first ahead of Huys. All three riders in the breakaway just heard the bell indicating the final lap of this long circuit.
There's some lightning spotted in the distance. It's a humid, warm spring day in the Ardeche with low winds.
Results of the intermediate sprint in Beauchastel:
1. Maxime Bouet - 10 pts, 3''
2. Laurens Huys - 6 pts, 2''
3. Pierre Rolland - 4 pts, 1''
Rolland has to drop out of the breakaway due to a front wheel puncture with 58km to go.
Rolland looks to be keen to chase back into the breakaway despite a fairly slow wheel change. The gap is still holding at two minutes.
The three leaders have been given a little more of a leash as they close in on the final 50km - the gap is 2'25".
Rolland's made it back into the breakaway after a short chase.
We're seeing the GC teams moving toward the front now. No one team is setting pace as Ineos, Bahrain, Trek and Bike Exchange start to position themselves.
Dark clouds are popping up over the horizon - the riders have been experiencing sunshine and showers throughout the stage, so fingers crossed the weather holds out for the finish.
The break is about to reach the bottom of the final climb with the same advantage they've had for the past 50km or so...2'15".
As soon as the main bunch hit the bottom of the climb they immediately came alive. Now Jumbo Visma and Trek are really putting on the pressure. The gap should come down quite quickly.
Dylan Groenewegen (Team BikeExchange - Jayco) is struggling with the pace and is losing contact with the back of the main bunch.
Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) is also losing contact. The sprinters are starting to suffer from this pace set by Trek-Segafredo.
The gap is a slight 30" as the leaders reach the top of the climb. Rolland is accelerating yet again to pad his lead in the KOM.
Maxime Bouet (Team Arkéa - Samsic) has fallen back into the peloton after the climb, leaving Rolland and Huys to navigate a potentially tricky, wet descent. The gap is just 25 seconds with 35km to go.
With 32km to go, Geschke has joined the breakaway.
But the breakaway is just about to get caught by the peloton. They're just dangling ahead by mere metres.
Meanwhile, Groenewegen, Bauhaus and co are over a minute behind the peloton.
30km to go
It's not looking like Groenewegen's group will make it back into the peloton. Team Bike Exchange has several teammates back to help the sprinter, but the gap is getting bigger, now 1'30" with 30km to go.
Mikkel Honoré (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) has attacked out of the peloton and is the new solo leader trying to hold off the inevitable catch. He has about 10 seconds.
Honore is navigating this technical descent - that still has some wet patches on it - alone.
Honore is back into the fold with 22km left. Ineos is still leading the peloton.
Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) is the rider doing the damage at the front.
Kwiatkowski is making it pretty much impossible for Team BikeExchange to get Groenewegen back into the mix. His group is still 1'20" behind the peloton with 16km left.
Some of the dropped riders are making it back into the peloton, including Ganna and Hirt. The Groenewegen group is 40 seconds behind, they're getting closer!
What a comeback from Team Bike Exchange (with help from UAE and Bahrain). They're within reaching distance now, but Trek-Segafredo are keeping the pace high.
It's single file all the way along the Rhone River in an all out battle to keep Groenewegen and Bauhaus out of contention. The gap between the two groups is 34 seconds with 5km to go.
Now Quickstep have come to the front with 4km to go.
Jumbo Visma are getting together for Wout van Aert.
Trek-Segafredo have brought Jasper Stuyven up to the front.
It's getting dicey out there within the final 2km. Bagioli is leading the group.
Rémi Cavagna (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) has taken a flyer off the front inside 2km to go.
Christophe Laporte quickly closes it down.
Ineos is back to the front as they approach the finish.
Van Aert comes around Ethan Hayter to take the first stage of the Dauphine!
Hayter, who had a great lead out from Filippo Ganna, kept pace with van Aert as the sprint wound up, but couldn't best the Belgian champion who takes his fourth stage win here at the Dauphine.
Van Aert now leads the overall competition and green jersey, which will be worn by Sean Quinn (EF Education Easypost) on stage 2. Ethan Hayter (Ineos) leads the best young rider competition and Pierre Rolland will be in the polka dot jersey tomorrow. Rolland will also claim the most combative prize for stage 1.
Read our full report on today's opening stage by Alastair Fotheringham: Van Aert sprints to victory in Critérium du Dauphiné stage 1
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