Along with Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), UAE Team Emirates' Dan Martin and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), France's Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) was unable to follow a number of the GC favourites on the final climb of stage 2 of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Monday.
Bardet lost 31 seconds at the French stage race after the likes of compatriot Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Chris Froome (Team Ineos) Movistar's Nairo Quintana and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) rode clear on the Côte-de-Saint-Victor-sur-Arlanc with just under 20km to go on a stage that was won by Bahrain-Merida's Dylan Teuns, who also took the race leader's jersey in Craponne-sur-Arzon.
"It was a major stage, but great to be on some of my training roads," Bardet told L'Equipe. "This is only my second day of racing after a break, and so I'm still not in perfect form. I tried to test my legs a bit earlier on the key climb, but I wasn't able to do any more than that."
Bardet recently completed his annual pre-Tour de France altitude training camp in Spain's Sierra Nevada mountain range, but, until starting the Dauphiné on Sunday, hadn't raced since finishing 21st at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in late April.
"I just have to tell myself that I'm going to keep getting better each day," Bardet continued, "and today doesn't change the way I'm going to approach the rest of the race.
"I'm here to put in some efforts, and to take each stage one day at a time, and we'll see how things have worked out by the end of the week," he said.
AG2R team manager Vincent Lavenu appeared slightly more concerned, but with the major mountain stages still to come later this week, before the Dauphiné finishes in Champéry on Sunday – and with the Tour de France still well over three weeks away – the team is having to look long-term.
"Our leader having lost 31 seconds is obviously not great," Lavenu told L'Equipe. "The team worked hard, but we're still disappointed. It proved to be a key stage, with the decisive move coming on the last climb, with Romain unable to follow near the top.
"Losing half a minute isn't ideal, but it's not crippling. It's still early in the race, and this might actually give Romain more of a chance to make a move a bit later on in the race," he said.
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