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Criterium du Dauphine 2016: Stage 1


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. The opening road stage sees riders travel 186km from Cluses to Saint-Vulbas with a sprint the most likely eventuality. 


Critérium du Dauphiné race hub on Cyclingnews

Opening prologue: Contador wins brutal uphill prologue in Les Gets

Criterium du Dauphine 2016 - Start List

Contador on top after Dauphine prologue – Podcast


Hello there and a warm welcome back to the Cyclingnews' live race centre as we prepare to bring you every pedal stroke from stage 1 of the Dauphiné. It's not the first day of the race - that was yesterday's prologue - but this is the opening road stage and as such it's being called stage 1 and we're going from there. 


Either way, it's a 186km trip from Cluses to Saint-Vulbas and, despite some early climbs, it should be one for the sprinters. 

Here's the stage profile

We're in Cluses this morning on what is set to be a beautiful day



So, here's the situation. The riders have just rolled past the start line and are on their way. There's an 8km neutral zone to negotiate before racing begins. 

Before we get going, let's quickly recap what happened yesterday on the opening day. 


It was a sadistic way to open a race, with a short but excruciatingly steep prologue starting in Les Gets and making its way up the face of Mont Chéry. Just 4km, but there were significant time gaps between the overall favourites. Here's our full report/results/photos:


Contador wins brutal Critérium du Dauphiné prologue


After that storming prologue ride, Alberto Contador finds himself in the yellow jersey of race leader today. 



And we're off! The neutral section is over, the flag has dropped, and racing is underway. Who will be the first to attack?

Here's Chris Froome at the start. He's wearing the polka dot jersey for best climber though it's only on loan from Alberto Contador, who wears yellow today. The Spaniard also leads the points classification but Richie Porte, second yesterday, wears green for him. 



Here's Porte in green. Etixx-QuickStep's Julian Alaphilippe is in the white jersey for best young riders, by the way. He was 5th in the prologue and leads that classification by 7 seconds from Adam Yates.


We've had our first attack of the day and it has come from Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).


He has already gained over a minute on the peloton, who aren't too bothered at the moment to see him go away. 


Just one man out front but there's another in pursuit. Orica-GreenEdge's Mitch Docker is between the peloton and Backaert, trying to make the bridge.

Docker makes the bridge. We now have two riders at the head of the race with a lead of 3:30 - and growing - over the peloton. 


So, just two men in today's break. The sprinters' teams will be perfectly pleased with that - they shouldn't have much trouble controlling such a small escape to bring things together for a bunch kick.

The breakaway duo have over four minutes now as they continue to gain time on a relaxed bunch behind. 


Contador is riding a custom-painted bike for the Dauphiné. Check it out in all its glory...


Gallery: Alberto Contador's Specialized S-Works Tarmac



166km remaining from 186km

Just over 20km covered and the peloton, with Tinkoff up there taking the initiative, are beginning to up the pace, with the gap stabilising at around 4:20.


Here's the first shot, from race organisers, of our breakaway duo.



Backaert finished 2:45 back on Contador yesterday so as it stands he's the virtual maillot jaune - the leader on the road. Docker was 3:38 down. 


In case you didn't know, we're doing a daily podcast from France for the duration of the Dauphiné. 


Here's the first instalment, in which Daniel Benson and Sam Dansie dissect the Les Gets prologue and get the reaction from the big favourites. 


Podcast: Contador on top after Dauphiné prologue


Backaert leads the race over the first climb of the day, the fourth-category Côte de Mornex.


The road continues to rise after the KOM point, which the peloton are approaching now with a deficit of over 5 minutes. 


The riders will continue to go uphill before heading downhill for two more short fourth-cat climbs. Then the second half of the course is predominantly flat. I can't see anything getting in the way of the sprinters today.


One rider who'll be in with a shout in a bunch kick is John Degenkolb. The German is on the comeback trail after his injuries from the Giant-Alpecin training ride crash earlier this year and this week should provide some indication whether he's able to return to the height of his powers. 



There's also the likes of Alexander Kristoff and Nacer Bouhanni. Who is your favourite for the stage win today?


Let us know via Twitter - @cyclingnewsfeed or @paddyfletch


A gentle descent now for the riders, and a gentle pace, too. in the first hour the break covered 36.8km - the bunch a couple less. Pretty leisurely - certainly much different to the fast and furious starts we saw pretty much every day at the Giro last month.


56km covered and the gap is still stable at 5:20.


"I've still got some work to do ahead the Tour de France"


Chris Froome was third in yesterday's prologue and, though there were encouraging signs, he admitted he has some way to go to hit top form for the Tour - especially as he wants to peak later in the race this year. 


You can read our story on Froome right here.


@PaddyFletch - Rooting for #Degenkolb to do well but I imagine #Kristoff is too strong for he, and #Bouhanni today. #Dauphine2016

@toddkingd Mon, 6th Jun 2016 12:21:08

We're climbing again, onto the fourth-cat Côte de Sallenôves. It's 5.7% but only lasts 1.3km. 


Backaert once again skips away from Docker and collects the KOM point to double his tally. 


The pace has picked up in the bunch, with Contador's Tinkoff still up near the front. The gap is now back down to around 4:15.


We're climbing again as we have another KOM point on the horizon. It's another short fourth-category - the Côte de Chilly. It's 1.6km climb at 7.3%.


It's Backaert who once again grabs the KOM point. Given Contador picked up 10 for his stage win yesterday, Backaert won't be riding himself into the polka dot jersey. Even if he gets the fourth and final point on the next climb, he'll only be fourth in the standings. 

110km remaining from 186km

The peloton crests the climb just over four minutes in arrears. 


Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson spoke to Louis Meintjes before the start of the stage. 

The South African climber said he is on form and happy after his move to Lampre-Merida.

"I’m good, I think. The training coming into the race has gone well and I’ve worked hard. A lot really depends on how the other guys are that I’m racing against," he said.

"I’ve actually always felt good it’s just that I’ve not been able to get the results. I had an illness and some bad luck with crashes. Luck hasn’t really been on my side but I think that will come."

"The transition from teams has actually been a lot easier than I thought. The guys have all worked super to help me."

"I just want to do as well as I can here, of course a result would be nice and first of all I’ll concentrate on GC. We’ll take it day by day and if I end up falling off the bus then we’ll go stages." 

101km remaining from 186km

The riders can now enjoy a descent down to the feed zone, which comes after 108km of racing. It's going to be a late lunch after a steady two hours of racing so far.  


The average speed so far on the hilly terrain is 39.1km/h. Things will no doubt speed up after the fed zone as the sprinters and their teams take charge. 


Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) confirmed he is targeting stage victories at the Criterium di Dauphine when he spoke to Daniel Benson. 

"I’m here for stage wins. It’s too hard here for GC for me, with a lot of tough stages. I won’t even try for GC. It’s still a good stage race for me. There are just two days for the sprinters and then a lot of finishes that suit riders like me. I can even look at stages 2 and 3 as opportunities," the Frenchman said.

"I think it’s a good question, to ask about my form. My last race was Liege-Bastogne-Liege, so it’s been around six weeks since my last race. I did a good training camp in Sierra Navada but right now I don’t know how I’ll go. I’ll take each stage as they come."


96km remaining from 186km

The two riders in the break lead the peloton by 4:15. 


In today's L'Equipe it was suggested that team owner Oleg Tinkov had sacked the team chef. The Russian team has moved quickly to give their version of the story.

The team says "Rune Sørensen, resigned from his position for personal reasons. Sørensen notified team management on May 31st, 2016, on his decision to terminate his contract."

In light of inaccurate press reports, Tinkoff would like to clarify on team chef:

@tinkoff_team Mon, 6th Jun 2016 13:03:42


Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) is a big favourite for today's expected sprint finish.

He spoke to Cyclingnews briefly at the start of the stage.  

"I feel okay. I was good at California and won a stage there, and that’s the goal here," he said.

"There are a few sprinters here but not too many, so hopefully I can manage. There’s Bouhanni and he’s racing in his home country and for sure he wants to perform. There are other guys and it won’t be easy but there’s a good chance."

"If you can perform here then you can perform at the Tour. It’s a real test before July and it gives you information on if you’re in a good shape or if you need to work more. We’ll see how I am but there are maybe one or two stages more for the sprinters."


With the stage now into the second half, the Katusha and Cofidis teams have taken over the chase of the break from Tinkoff. 


One of the sport's unwritten rules is that the race leader's team leads the chase of the peloton for the first half of the stage, with eventual stage winners taking over for the second half. 


Ireland's Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon-18) finished last in the prologue time trial but is a contender today if the stage ends in a sprint. He will try to use the leadout trains of the other sprinters.

He spoke to Cyclingnews briefly at the start.

"There was no time limit yesterday and I don’t really go that well uphill so the plan was to save everything for today. My legs are okay. You never feel entirely ready but I feel okay," he explained.

"It’s hard when some of the guys have full lead out trains here and it’s just going to me and Shane trying to do our thing. We’ll try and get a good result in some place. Sometimes it helps that there are just two of us. We’ve had some trouble this year trying to get a full leadout going so having just the two guys it can work a bit better."


#Dauphine Inside the final 100 km, about five minutes advantage for Backaert and Docker.

@Lotto_Soudal Mon, 6th Jun 2016 13:27:56

78km remaining from 186km

The peloton is passing through the feed zone, grabbing their musette for their late lunch. The two break away riders have already taken their food and are trying to push on. However the gap is down to 3:45.


Here's a reminder of the stage profile. We've covered just over 115km and the only remaining feature is the upcoming fourth-category climb. With such a flat final 50km, a small break and a small gap, we're heading, as expected, for a bunch sprint. 

Nacer Bouhanni will be one of the favourites today, the Frenchman having won two stages at the Dauphiné last year. Cofidis manager Yvon Sanquer spoke to the Dauphiné's media people and had this to say about the Frenchman's sprint set-up.


"There are three sprint opportunities for Nacer at this Dauphiné. Christophe Laporte will be his leadout man but Geoffrey Soupe can also play that role. It's a versatility that will be useful going up against all the other teams. Before them in the train will be Borut Bozic and Cyril Lemoine, two experienced heads who will complete the set-up."

The breakaway duo continue to lose time. The gap now falls below three minutes. 


The pace picked up in the third hour of racing, giving us an average speed so far of 40.7km/h.


The leaders are on the final climb of the day, the Côte de Prémeyzel. Again, it's a short one, just 900 metres at 6.6%.


With Backaert having crested first over the first three climbs, this time it's Docker who grabs the KOM point. Not that either of them looked that bothered. 

The peloton come over now, three minutes behind. 


48km remaining from 186km

So, 48km to go now, and the gap has come down to 2:30. It's pretty much flat from here on in and it's Cofidis who are doing the work at the moment on the front of the bunch. 


We caught up with Greg Van Avermaet this morning. Here's what he had to say.


Greg Van Avermaet: I would have been stupid to leave BMC


Tinkoff still up there as Katusha commit a man to the front. A Giant-Alpecin representative just behind him. 


35km remaining from 186km

The gap is hovering just below the 2:30 mark as we enter the final 35km of the stage. 

Another rider we spoke to this morning was Adam Yates, who is eighth overall after the prologue. The 23-year-old Brit, who was 6th overall here two years ago, will be riding his second Tour de France in July. 


"I’ve been up at altitude training for the last few weeks. I’ve not done much intensity and I’ve just been trying to focus on my main aim for the season, which is the Tour de France. I’m happy with the prologue - hopefully it’s a good sign for the rest of the week.


"We’ll see about GC though. As I said I’ve not done much intensity so once we get into the mountains and these guys start putting the hammer down we’ll see."


Another rider we spoke to this morning was Adam Yates, who is eighth overall after the prologue. The 23-year-old Brit, who was 6th overall here two years ago, will be riding his second Tour de France in July. 


"I’ve been up at altitude training for the last few weeks. I’ve not done much intensity and I’ve just been trying to focus on my main aim for the season, which is the Tour de France. I’m happy with the prologue - hopefully it’s a good sign for the rest of the week.


"We’ll see about GC though. As I said I’ve not done much intensity so once we get into the mountains and these guys start putting the hammer down we’ll see."


Cofidis, Giant, Katusha, Tinkoff. That's the order at the head of the bunch at the moment with one representative from each. 

25km remaining from 186km

This stage has been extremely formulaic. The gap is steadily falling (1:15 as we enter the final 25km) and the peloton are poised to make the catch at the optimal moment. 


All change at the front of the race as Docker pulls up and leaves Backaert to get on with it. The moustached Australian eases up and looks in a slight bit of discomfort as he waves goodbye to his former companion. 


Backaert now cuts a lone figure at the front of the race. He's emptying the tank here and he's managing, for now, to hold his lead of 1:15. 


There are a couple of technical sections in the final kilometres but this is a finish for the pure sprinters. Here's how the profile looks.


Just 30 seconds now for our fading leader.


15km remaining from 186km

As the riders turn onto a long, tall tree-lined road, the peloton has Backaert firmly in their sights. 15km to go and the catch is imminent.


All together


Backaert is caught as we come through another small village. The Belgian gives a wave to the camera before dropping back through the bunch. 


Predictions please


So, here we go. This is where the build-up to the sprint starts. Who is going to win? Let me know on Twitter - @cyclingnewsfeed or @paddyfletch


@paddyfletch I think Kristoff is the strongest sprinter because of lead-out. Watch for Cummings, he can make his attack in last kilometers.

@BorisTDF Mon, 6th Jun 2016 13:51:53

As we near the final 10km it's not the sprinters' teams at the front but the GC teams. Tinkoff are up there with BMC and Sky, protecting the top three on GC respectively - Contador, Porte, Froome. 

Teams gathering and moving up all the time now. Cannondale, AG2R, IAM, Katusha all looking to get into the mix. Even straightforward stages like this become very hectic in the finale.


8km remaining from 186km

The pace is ferocious at the head of the bunch and a lot of riders are struggling here at the back of the bunch, where it's stringing out.


Fumiyuki Beppu is giving it everything as he takes a turn, so much so that he gets a signal from a Trek teammate to knock it off slightly. 

Giant-Alpecin move up now and they have a full train of riders at the moment for Degenkolb. 


5km remaining from 186km

Tinkoff and the rest of the GC teams still up there. They can ease up and leave it to the sprinters at the 3km to go mark.


4km remaining from 186km

Another right-hand bend at a roundabout catches many riders out. It's really stringing out now. This is a nightmare to control.

3km remaining from 186km

3km to go and the GC riders are safe and can leave it to the sprinters to take up the reigns. 


There are a couple of big turns in this finale. The first a 90-degree left-hander coming just ahead of the 2km to go mark. 


Valgren peels off and Team Sky hit the front here as they come through the 90-degree bend, all safe.


2km remaining from 186km

Katusha up there. Cofidis moving up now with Bouhanni. 


1km remaining from 186km

It's Luke Rowe on the front but Katusha look the best-placed of the sprinters teams. 


1km remaining from 186km

Flamme rouge


It's getting messy and aggressive out there as we have a real fight for position. 


Katusha and Cofidis vying for position.


Katusha leading it out


Sam Bennet comes throhg


But Bouhanni comes through and just takes it on the line!


Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) wins stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné. 


Jens Debuscherre (Lotto Soudal) came through for second ahead of a fading Sam Bennet (Bora-Argon 18). 


That was quite a sprint from Bouhanni. Mightily impressive. Katusha led it out but it was Bennett who launched first and the Frenchman was right on his wheel. Despite a wobble, he came back and had more than enough gas to thread his way through to take the win.


Kristoff was outside top 10 having made a real mess of his leadout. As Bennett launched, the Katusha handover was poor, and Kristoff had to check and lost all momentum. 


Bouhanni speaks to French TV


"It's important for me to dedicated this victory to Muhammed Ali," says the Frenchman of his victory salute. 


"I'm very happy to have won today. I was hoping to get a victory here and I'm happy to have done so."


Top 10


1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 4:27:53
2 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:00
3 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18 0:00:00
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data 0:00:00
5 Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling 0:00:00
6 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:00
7 Tony Hurel (Fra) Direct Energie 0:00:00
8 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling 0:00:00
9 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:00
10 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:00


No change in the GC but here's how it now looks


1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 4:39:29
2 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:06
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:13
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:21
5 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:24
6 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:25
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:29
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:31
9 Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:37
10 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:39


GC riders fighting for position 1.5km to the line on a sprint st are just making all dangerous for all the guys in the group!not intelligent

@MATTEOTRENTIN Mon, 6th Jun 2016 15:18:00

That's Bouhanni's seventh sprint victory this season and things bode well for him ahead of the Tour. 


I mentioned it was getting aggressive in the final couple of kilometres. Lots of pictures appearing on social media of headbutts from Cofidis riders on Katusha men as the two teams jostled for position.


These following two screenshots from L'Equipe journalist A.Thomas-Commin.



The officials aren't going to take action over those incidents and Bouhanni has emerged onto the podium to spray the champagne and also pull on the green jersey as the new leader of the points classification.



A shot of the sprint



Pretty disappointed about the sprint. Team did a really good job, but in the end it was really hectic... #disapointed #Dauphine2016

@EdwardTheuns Mon, 6th Jun 2016 15:46:12

We've just grabbed a word with a disappointed Alexander Kristoff


"I wanted to start my sprint but my wheel touched my teammate's and I almost crashed again. Then my sprint was over. At least I didn’t crash but I don’t really know what happened. I felt okay but that was shit."


Alberto Contador goes up onto the podium once more to collect his yellow jersey. 



We have a short report, brief results, and plenty of photos already in our stage 1 report.


Critérium du Dauphiné: Bouhanni wins in Saint-Vulbas



We'll also have video highlights on the way shortly, so you can re-live the argy bargy and the final sprint. We'll have all the reaction and news from the race along with a podcast later this evening, too. 

Tomorrow's stage features an uphill finish and it should be an attacking finale, where the GC men will have to be on guard. 


That's it from us for today


Thanks for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow for full live coverage of stage 2 - see you then. 


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