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Critérium du Dauphiné 2012: Stage 1

Stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, 187km from Seyssins to Saint-Vallier.

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. With six categorised climbs on the route, today's stage has been billed as a battle between the puncheurs and the sprinters, with the final obstacle, the 3rd category Côte de la Sizeranne, coming just 9km from the finish.

82km remaining from 187km

As we pick up the action with 82km still to race, a six-man break is up the road with 4:40 in hand over the peloton. Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar), Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) and Yukihiro Doi (Argos-Shimano) jumped clear inside the opening five kilometres, and they've been off the front ever since. After holding a lead of 13 minutes at the 45km mark, their advantage gradually dropped thereafter, with Lotto Belisol the first chasers to put their shoulders to the wheel.

Shortly after that injection of pace, there was a crash in the peloton, with a number of riders coming a cropper, including Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ-BigMat) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). Although Fedrigo banged his knee, he was able to make it back on to the rear of the bunch relatively quickly. Sanchez has had a rather more difficult time of it, and the Spaniard is still struggling, over six minutes down on the bunch.

Sanchez has two teammates for company, and the fear is that he may have broken some ribs in that fall. For now, he's continuing in the race, although the race doctor told letour.fr  that he will be taken to hospital immediately after the finish.

68km remaining from 187km

Back in the main peloton, Sky, GreenEdge-Orica and BMC have all been contributing to the chase effort, and the leading sextet's advantage is down to 4 minutes.

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) is looking comfortable in the main peloton in the yellow jersey of race leader. The Australian saw off the challenge of Bradley Wiggins in yesterday's prologue. While Durbridge was quick to point out that he enjoyed the best of the conditions on Sunday afternoon, the neo-professional still had to put in a fine time to take out the win.

58km remaining from 187km

As was the case at Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie, there are plenty of Team Sky jerseys massed near the front of the peloton, with Bradley Wiggins keep a close eye on affairs.

The pursuit of the break has been a rather united affair thus far, however. BMC's Steve Morabito has put in a lengthy stint on the front and Lotto Belisol have done their bit in order to protect the interests of Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Jelle Vanendert.

Interesting to note that Saur-Sojasun have been active on the front in recent kilometres. Jerome Coppel is their man for the general classification, but the punchy Julien Simon might well look to chase stage honours today.

Interesting to note that Saur-Sojasun have been active on the front in recent kilometres. Jerome Coppel is their man for the general classification, but the punchy Julien Simon might well look to chase stage honours today.

 

There are still three climbs to come today – the Côte des Escoffiers (Cat. 4) comes with 45km to go, followed shortly afterwards by the Côte des Potences (Cat. 4) before the grand finale on the Côte de la Sizeranne (Cat. 3), which is followed by the 9km run-in to Saint-Vallier.

52km remaining from 187km

The break's advantage continues to tumble, as the peloton closes to almost 3 minutes.

For now, Markel Irizar (RadioShack-Nissan) is the maillot jaune virtuel. He was 17th overall this morning, nine seconds down on Durbridge.

Yukihiro Doi is wearing the distinctive jersey of Japanese champion in this break. The Argos-Shimano rider won his national title in Honshu at the end of April.

The stylish Daniel Teklehaimanot (Orica-GreenEdge) now leads the peloton in defence of Durbridge's overall lead. The Eritrean talent had been set to sign for Cervelo TestTeam when the squad folded at the end of the 2010 season, but he finally found his place in the WorldTour for 2012 at GreenEdge.

46km remaining from 187km

Sep Vanmarcke leads the break on the climb of the Côte des Escoffiers. The sextet are continuing to collaborate well, but the bunch is closing ineluctably - the gap is now just 2:18.

 

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is near the front of the peloton. The Belgian champion had an ultimately disappointing spring, even if he showed brief flashes of his old self in the Ardennes, but he knows he can make amends at the Worlds in Valkenburg in September. Before that, he'll be looking to shine the opening days of the Tour de France in Belgium.

38km remaining from 187km

Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar) has been first over each of the four climbs to date, and the Frenchman is active on the front as the break hits the slopes of the Côte des Potences.

Arnold Jeannesson will be FDJ-BigMat's main hope for a high overall placing in the Tour this July, but today the Frenchman is happy to ferry bidons to his teammates.

34km remaining from 187km

A clutch of BMC riders lead the peloton, partly to protect Cadel Evans' interests but perhaps also to try and set Philippe Gilbert up for an attack on the final climb. The break's lead remains just above the two-minute mark for now.

A number of riders took a tumble as the peloton negotiated a roundabout. Dan Martin (Garmin-Barracuda) went down the hardest, falling heavily on his shoulder. Thankfully, the Irishman is back in the saddle and makes his way gingerly back towards the rear of the peloton.

28km remaining from 187km

Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) were also caught up in the crash. The Australian champion safely gets back on in the company of Simon Clarke.

Dan Martin has no teammates with him as he chases alone behind the peloton. Although he is grimacing, he doesn't appear to have sustained serious injury.

23km remaining from 187km

It was an ominous sight throughout the spring, and the light blue jerseys of Omega Pharma-QuickStep have suddenly massed at the head of the peloton. The break still has two minutes in hand, and it will be interesting to see how quickly that gap starts to fall as we approach the final 20 kilometres.

21km remaining from 187km

Omega Pharma-QuickStep's efforts are making swift inroads into the break's lead. While the Belgian team has Gerald Ciolek in its ranks, it's more likely that they're working with Tony Martin and Sylvain Chavanel's GC challenge in mind.

18km remaining from 187km

Bert Grabsch is putting in a monstrous turn on the front, stringing out the peloton and clipping huge chunks of time out of the break's lead.

French champion Sylvain Chavanel is tucked in third wheel and he might well be tempted to try something on the final climb, the Côte de la Sizeranne. The gap is down to just 1:15 with a shade over 15km to race.

There's been a huge injection of pace ever since Omega Pharma-QuickStep took up the reins. The peloton is strung out in one long line and the six escapees will have noted the rate at which their lead is beginning to crumble with a degree of alarm.

13km remaining from 187km

At that, the attacking begins in the break - Markel Irizar accelerates and brings Vanmarcke, Edet and Tjallingi with him. Yukihiro and Bernaudeau are unable to follow, although Bernaudeau will at least have the king of the mountains prize for consolation this evening.

The four men still out in front begin the final climb, aware that they don't have too much breathing room. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep-led bunch is at 52 seconds.

Grabsch swings off after putting in his huge shift at the front of the peloton, while Yukihuro Doi has been swallowed up by the bunch.

Indeed, Doi has just passed a wheel to John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano), who punctured on the approach to the final climb.

Meanwhile, Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) has been dropped off the back of the peloton on this third category climb. A worrying sign just over three weeks shy of the Tour de France.

At the front of the race, Schleck's teammate Irizar dances clear of his remaining companions approaching the summit of the climb. The peloton is just 16 seocnds behind.

Pierre Rolland (Europcar) jumps away from the peloton, catching and passing Vanmarcke and Edet near the summit of the climb. Rolland sets off in lone pursuit of Irizar.

The front end of the bunch splinters slightly over the top of the climb, with Philippe Gilbert among those attempt to slip away as the descent begins.

5km remaining from 187km

After Rolland was brought back, his teammate Cyril Gautier led the chase of Irizar, and the Spaniard is finally pegged back with 5km to go.

Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) is the next to try and get away on the descent, and he brings Cadel Evans and Andriy Grivko (Astana) with him... The trio have ten bike lengths in hand on the peloton along.

Luke Durbridge, meanwhile, has apparently been dropped. The yellow jersey is set to change hands this evening.

3km remaining from 187km

Durbridge is in the third group on the road, after the peloton split over the top of the climb. Evans drives on the three-man group in front, although they have only a handful of seconds of an advantage over the bunch. The Astana rider is Kashechkin and not Grivko, by the way.

2km remaining from 187km

Evans continues to drive the three leaders as they approach the final kilometre.

1km remaining from 187km

Into the finishing straight, and Evans continues to set the pace in front. The peloton is within touching distance but they can't quite make the juncture.

Evans doesn't hesitate and opens the sprint. Coppel tries to come around him, but the Frenchman doesn't seem to have the legs...

Evans takes the win, ahead of Coppel and Kaschechkin.

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat) wins the sprint for 4th, four seconds down on Evans.

While Evans is congratulated by his teammate George Hincapie, the television pictures switch to Andy Schleck, soft-pedalling alongside Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) over three minutes down. The Luxembourger has a lot of work to do between now and July...

That was a fine sprint from Bouhanni to take 4th, especially considering what came before. It's just a pity for the French youngster that the reduced peloton couldn't quite close down Evans.

Overall, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) should be in yellow this evening, one second ahead of Evans.

Result:

1 Cadel Evans (Aus) Bmc Racing Team 4:36:21
2 Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Fdj-Bigmat 0:00:04
5 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Radioshack-Nissan
6 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
7 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
8 Julien Simon (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
9 Daniele Ratto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
10 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling

General classification:

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 4:43:04
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) Bmc Racing Team 0:00:01
3 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
4 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
5 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:04

Thanks for joining us for our coverage of today's stage, we'll be back for more tomorrow. In the meantime, stay with Cyclingnews for a full report, results and pictures, as well as all the news from the Critérium du Dauphiné.

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