With a ferocious attack on the final climb to win stage 2 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Movistar's Jesús Herrada confirmed himself as one of the top puncheurs in the peloton, beating Tour de France stage winner Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) and Giro d'Italia stage winner Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) in his first WorldTour victory.
Herrada, 25, had seven pro wins in his palmares at the start of the stage, with a national championship and six UCI 2.1-ranked stage victories. But with an unmatched jump in the final 300m of the climb, Herrada rocketed past a four-man escape to snatch the biggest win of his career.
“I'm so happy to have won in such an important race, against so many talented riders," Herrada said. "The pace during the stage was steady, without any real drops, but despite Tinkoff leading for the whole race, there was some point when the breakaway got five or six minutes, and that forced Etixx to take the lead and push hard. That rhythm before the climbs left only one chance and one thing to do for us: follow the wheels and save energy until the ascents.
"The team managed the situation perfectly. Fran [Ventoso] and Marc [Soler] kept us well protected, Antonio [Pedrero] helped out as much as he could and it was Rubén [Fernandez] and Dayer's [Quintana] task, mostly Dayer, to follow those moves. I knew the finish, I kept in mind that it was so good for me, but at the same time, I couldn't spend a bit of energy more than I should, because I only had that one opportunity: the sprint."
Herrada almost missed his chance when the three-man move with Gallopin, Pauwels, and Fabrice Jeandesboz (Direct Energie) were still dangling off the front with 500m to go. He followed a move by Movistar teammate Daniel Moreno to nullify the leaders.
"I tried to save that bit for the end and succeeded to keep myself calm until the final 500 meters, when Dani attacked, the break was finally caught and I saw my place to try the move into the final turn. I'm immensely happy with how things played out."
The win moved Herrada up into sixth overall, 27 seconds from race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).