Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 1 of the Criterium du Dauphine in Saint-Etienne. We will have full live coverage of the hilly 170km stage.
Criterium du Dauphine start list
Bonjour and welcome to our live coverage of the Criterium du Dauphine.
We'll have all the action from the rolling loop around Saint-Etienne.
The riders are signing on under cloudy skies with the riders due to roll out in 15 minutes, with the a official start at 10:45 local time after a neutralised sector out of the city centre.
Cyclingnews Editor in Chief Daniel Benson, Patrick Fletcher and Josh Evans are at the race and have already spotted several new bikes as riders use the Dauphine to prepare for the Tour de France.
Team Sky signed on under cloudy skies, with Chris Froome as team leader as he targets another overall victory.
This is the profile of today's opening stage.
The Dauphine also marks a return to racing for Esteban Chaves of Orica-Scott. The Colombian has not raced since February due to a knee injury.
Orica-Scott has a strong line up for the Dauphine, with Simon Yates continuing his build-up for the Tour de France.
Before the start there was a minute's silence for the victims of the London attacks that happened on Saturday night.
The riders have now left Saint-Etienne for the neutralised sector of the stage. The racing is about to begin.
Before the start we caught up with several big name riders.
First up is Mikel Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)
“I’ve had a really good period of training. We’ve been up to Tenerife for a training camp. It’s been a long period without racing but honestly I need that," he told TV2 Norway.
"So far, so good. Of course we have to be aware of what the main objective is with winning the race with Chris [Froome]. Let’s hope we can bring some good morale before the Tour de France."
"The first stage is going to be hectic and we’ll see how I feel after a period of not racing. There are some good sprinters around and I’m sure they’re going to try and take their chances."
This was the scene just before the riders left the start in Saint-Etienne.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) also spoke briefly before the start.
"There are some really tough stages. On Friday Saturday and Sunday we have three pretty big mountain stages, all back-to-back. That will be a big test for us," he said.
"I’d love to try and win but it’s not easy. There are a lot of GC contenders here and I’ll have to see how the racing goes."
"The whole mental aspect [ed. before the Tour de France] is important. I’m looking to leave this race with good feelings and know that I’m in the right form heading into July."
As ever, Froome looked calm and relaxed before the start.
After covering the 7.8km neutralise sector, the flag has been dropped and the 170km is officially under way.
176 riders started the race.
Daniel Benson spoke to Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) before the start.
"The legs are good. I’m training very well in the last month. Now we have a good week to work on my intensity,"he said.
I’m very happy with things at this moment. Maybe we’re going a bit slower in preparation for the Tour than in previous years but I think that’s the most intelligent thing to do."
"If you look at the profile today it’s up and down all day. There are lots of corners and there’s no easy day. We need to pay attention if there’s rain, because that can make it more dangerous but it’s a good day for training."
We also took this photo of Contador's new race bike.
To read more about Alberto Contador's hopes and ambitions for the Dauphine, click here to read what he said during his pre-race press conference.
Today's stage is up and down in the hills outside of Saint-Etienne. THe first climb - the Col du Pilon comes soon. It is 4.8km long at 5% average. It is a great launch pad for the break of the day.
We have already seen several attacka from the Cyclingnews blimp. 20 riders tried to get away but Team Sky has been working for a more controlled start to the racing.
Seven riders have escaped from the 20-rider group but the racing is fast as riders try to form the early break of the day.
We are not suprised to see that Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) is in the attack. He is first to the top of the Col de Pilon and takes two points in the climber's competition.
The fast start and early climb saw several riders go out the back of the peloton, including sprinters Alexander Kristoff, Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud Démare.
It seems that Warren Barguil was also caught out by the fast start.
Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) spoke to Cyclingnews before the start of the stage. He suffered a micro fracture in his hip at the Tour de Romandie and so has missed some key training.
"Healing has gone well. It could always be better but I’m happy to be here. I’ve not been riding my bike again for that long but I wanted to come here and get some kilometres," the Frenchman said.
"It’s not since Romandie that I last raced and it’s been only two weeks since I’ve been able to training again. I had to take three weeks totally off the bike so that I could recover."
This has all changed my plans. I was originally hoping to go to altitude before the Dauphine but then I couldn’t do that because of my physiotherapy."
"Now the plan is to just arrive at the Tour de France in the best shape possible. This race is all about getting in kilometres and building my shape. I would like to do something later in the week but we really need to see. The weight is okay, it’s not bad, but it’s more about the fitness."
At the head of the race the 7 attackers have pushed out their lead to two minutes.
Also in the move is Nibali. Not Vincenzo, who finished third in the recent Giro d'Italia but his younger brother Antonio, who also rides for Bahrain-Merida.
The riders in the seven-rider attack are:
Axel Domont (AG2R), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) and Angel Madrazo (Delko).
They're pushing out their lead as the road descends to the valley after the first climb.
The 170km stage follows an anti-clockwise loop around Saint-Etienne and the Loire Valley, with climbs dotted along the way.
The finish will be especially tough with the peloton facing three laps of a hilly 15km circuit. south of the city.
The circuit includes the 3rd category Côte de Rochetaillée and some twisting roads on the descnt to the finish.
The lead of the seven has gone up to 3:30. We have the break of the day.
Today is not a day for the sprinters as Alxeander Kristoff (Katusha) confirmed.
"I think that there are perhaps too many hills today for me. I’m also not that healthy. I’ve had a cold for three days so things aren’t super," the Norwegian said.
"Today I’ll try and see how I feel but on paper it’s on the edge as to whether I could survive for today’s sprint even when I’m in top shape but we’ll see."
To read all the pre-race comments we gathered at the start in Saint-Etienne, click here.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 4th Jun 2017 09:30:15
Fabio Aru (Astana) is back in action today after his spring was wrecked by illness and injury.
The Sardinian has a new helmet with the white and red colours of Sardinian decorated with the Four Moors logo.
Aru spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport yesterday about his troubled spring. Click here to read the Cyclingnews story.
135km remaining from 170km
The seven-rider break has pushed out its lead to 4:20.
We listed six of the seven riders in the attack. The seventh is Silvio Herklotz (Bora-Hansgrohe).
He is also doing some strong turns up front to help open the gap as much as possible.
Fabio Aru also has a new bike to go with his white Sardinian helmet.
Here is his bronze-coloured Argon 18 bike.
The Trek-Segafredo and Team Sky riders are leading the chase of the peloton, keeping the gap ata safe, controlled level.
The race will soon hit the Côte de la Roche as the race returns to the climbs to the east of Saint-Etienne.
It is a 4th categroy climb but is soon followed by the Côte de Périgneux.
This is one of the first imsages of the break of the day. The seven riders are riding under grey skies but the roads are dry so far.
It's another busy weekend of racing, with the final day of the new Hammer Series, the Skoda-Tour du Luxembourg.
We'll have reports, results and photos of all the action.
113km remaining from 170km
As expected, De Gendt jumped away to take the point at the top of the Côte de la Roche.
He's clearly chasing the first polka-dot jersey as king of the mountains.
The peloton is close to 6:00 back on the break now.
Team Sky and Trek-Segafredo continue to do the chasing to keep the seven under control.
Here David Lopez does the early hard work for Team Sky.
Thomas De Gendt did not ease up after the côte de la Roche and has opened a gap of 25 seconds on therest of the break at the top of the côte de Périgneux.
@TeamSky Sun, 4th Jun 2017 10:13:27
105km remaining from 170km
Wisely De Gendt has now eased up. However his strong pace has pushed the gap out to 6:25.
The peloton will have to be careful if they ant to keep the seven riders within reach and so fight for the stage victory.
With the tough circuit likely to elminate all the sprinters and their teams, it is difficult to see who will lead the chase, giving the attackers a good chance of stating away.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 4th Jun 2017 10:20:24
@BMCProTeam Sun, 4th Jun 2017 10:22:08
As we near the halfway point in the stage the peloton has upped the chase and begun to bring the gap on the breakway below 6:00.
The stronger riders in the peloton have the advantage of the series of hills in the final 85km of the stage. There are five categorised climbs left to race, including the 6.8km long 2nd category Côte de Saint-Romain-les-Atheux after 94.5km of racing.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Sun, 4th Jun 2017 10:33:01
The riders then face the Côte de Tarentaise after 110km.
The three hilly circuits begin after 126km of racing, with the Côte de Rochetaillée covered three times in a testing finale.
The Côte de Rochetaillée is 3.4km long, with a tsting descent back to the centre of Saint-Etienne.
Fortunately for the riders, the finish is on a straight road.
This is a shot of the final 100m of the stage.
The road is wet after some rain but the conditions are better out of the city.
If the race does not explode on the clmib and testing descents, then a small group is likely to sprint for victory.
Our pick if the day is Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida). He proved his ability by winnnig a similar tough stage at Paris-Nice.
"Today is a really hard stage, especially after a month without racing, since Romandie. It will be a really aggressive finale, but we're going to give it a go," he told Cyclingnews at the start.
"This stage can suit me well but we'll see at the end. There are many possibilities here for me."
"The following couple of days are more for the pure sprinters, but I'll still give it a go there too."
"This is a big race ahead of the Tour de France, so it's going to be a really important week for us.
Here is Colbrelli speaking to CN's Patrick Fletecher before the start of the stage.
90km remaining from 170km
The peloton has pegged the break at around 6:00.
The skies are grey and heavy but the riders are enjoying dry conditions so far.
After two hours of steady racing the average speed for the stage is 40.250 km/h. That's pretty fast considering the rolling terrain.
Cyclingnews Editor in Chief Daniel Benson spoke to Chris Froome before the start of the race.
Many observers have noted that Froome has yet to win a race in 2017, something that has never happened during his reign as the best stage race and Grand Tour rider in the peloton.
However Froome is not concerned about his more gradual build-up to the Tour de France. He also plans to target the Vuelta a Espana this summer.
"I don’t feel like I’m here to prove anything or send a message to anyone," Froome said when asked about his dry run.
"It’s more for myself and trying to gauge where I’m at, but for sure a victory is always good."
Froome knows that the Dauphine will be decided in the final mountain stages and he is targeting overall victory.
"I’m here to go for it. I’ve won the Dauphiné three times before going on to win the Tour so it’s a big goal for me," he said.
"At the same time it’s a big test for me to see where I’m at and what work I need to do before July."
To read the full interview with Chris Froome, click here.
72km remaining from 170km
As the riders head to the Côte de Saint-Romain-les-Atheux their lead remains at 5:40.
The climb will be key to their hopes of staying away to the finish.
Alexander Kristoff has been linked to a number of teams, with Astana reportedly leading the way to sign him.
He told Cyclingnews at the start of the Dauphine that he is still mulling over his future with his current contract winding down at Katusha-Alpecin.
"At the moment I don’t know my plans. Maybe I’ll continue with Katusha. We’re in negotiations but there are also other teams interested," Kristoff told Cyclingnews at the start of the opening stage of the Critérium.
“I look for a team that’s going to give me opportunities and one that’s going to help me be competitive in the sprints and in the Classics, as I’ve been doing here in Katusha."
To read the full interview with Kristoff, click here.
66km remaining from 170km
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) is the first to the top of the côte de Saint-Romain-les-Atheux, scoring a further five points in the climber's competition.
He looks set to wear the red and white polka-dot jersey after today's stage.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 4th Jun 2017 11:18:51
These are the riders in the break of the day.
The Tour de France team leaders like to test new equipment at the Dauphine and we spotted Alberto Contador with what looks like a new Trek Emonda bike.
For a full photo gallery and details, click here.
70km remaining from 170km
After 100km of racing, the break remains 5:10 clear of the peloton.
The gap to the break is down to below 5:00 for the first time as the race hits the Côte de Tarentaise.
The chase is definitely on now.
@Ride_Argyle Sun, 4th Jun 2017 11:44:01
The Astana team is now leading the chase, perhaps hopnig to set up Alexei Lutsenko or Luis Leon Sanchez.
They have Jakob Fuglsang as team leader, while Fabio Aru is making his return to racing in France this week.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 4th Jun 2017 11:46:39
The seven adventurers: Axel Domont (AG2R), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Antonio Nibali (Bahrain), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Silvio Herklotz (Bora), Delio Fernandez and Angel Madrazo (Delko Marseille) have reached Saint-Etienne for the start of the three hilly circuits.
We're officially in the finale of the race and the speed is up.
Esteban Chaves is back racing at the Dauphine. After a difficult spding due to a knee injury, he is happy to pin a number on Orica-Scott jersey.
“I’m just so happy to be back,” he told Cyclingnews outside the Orica-Scott team bus in Saint-Etienne.
“I haven’t raced since February, and I haven’t raced in Europe since October, so it’s quite emotional to be back at a race."
"Also I've hardly raced in France – I’ve never done Paris-Nice, never done the Dauphiné, never done the Tour – so it will be a really good experience for me."
“There are nerves, for sure, but that’s always the case. I believe it’s better to have nerves than not to.”
To read the full Cyclingnews interview with Chaves click here.
37km remaining from 170km
The Côte de Rochetaillée comes straight out of the centre of Saint-Etienne. It will surely vut the lead to the break even more.
So far Chris Froome has stayed well protected in the peloton.
The Côte de Rochetaillée covers narrow roads through the trees with the surface wet in parts.
The Dimension Data team is also working on the front, probably for Edvald Boasson Hagen.
The Norwegian recently showed some good form winning three stages and the overall at the Tour des Fjords at home.
De Gendt continues to hover uo climber points on the Côte de Rochetaillée.
He's already the confirmed leader of the competition after being first to top of all the clmib so far in the stage.
30km remaining from 170km
The break approaches the finish area after the fast descent and have managed to hold their lead of 3:40.
The road is dry making the descnt safe for everyone.
As expected the climb of the Côte de Rochetaillée is hurting the sprinters. Nacer Bouhanni is one of the first to be distanced.
@BMCProTeam Sun, 4th Jun 2017 12:17:01
The descent to Saint-Etienne last until the final kilometre. That will make for a fast and hectic finish in two laps time.
27km remaining from 170km
As the peloton passes through the finish, the gap is measured at 3:20.
Knowing the strength of Thomas De Gendt, the peloton might struggle to catch the Belgian and the rest of the break.
The twisting roads will make it hard for the peloton to close the gap.
@Ride_Argyle Sun, 4th Jun 2017 12:21:16
Davide Formolo is part of the Cannondale team exactly a week after he finished tenth overall in the Giro d'Italia.
The peloton is lined out in pursuit of the attack, while De Gendt sets the pace up front. He seems trying to split the break before the final climb.
De Gendt's has taken flight. Domont is with him, with Nibali chasing to get across to them.
Behind Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) has been distanced. He won't fight for victory today.
@quickstepteam Sun, 4th Jun 2017 12:30:11
De Gendt is pushing a huge gear but Domont is glued to his wheel.
They lead the peloton by 2:40 and so with 21km to go have a great chance of staying away.
Orica-Scott is leading the peloton now.
Behind Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) has been distanced.
Froome is tucked in behind teammate Kwaitkowski, as Orica push the chase with four riders on the front.
16km remaining from 170km
De Gendt and Domont are sharing the work and so keeping their lead on the peloton.
As they hit the flat roads on the outskirts of Saint-Etienne, their lead is still 2:30.
15km remaining from 170km
The bell rings for De Gendt and Domont. Last lap!
Four chasers from the original break are now more than 30 seconds back. They are also fighting to stay away.
The pleoton is lined out as Orica smash it on the front but it is almost certainly too little too late to catch De Gendt and Domont.
The peloton passes through the finish 2:25 down on the break.
All the overall contenders are in the peloton but they all look tired and shocked at the high speed of the finale.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 4th Jun 2017 12:42:33
De Gendt is leading down the descent, with Domont taking a slightly different line on each corner.
We will soon see who is the strongest on the final climb of the stage and who will win the stage.
We will also see if the overall contenders will try to test their rivals.
10km remaining from 170km
Domont is breathing deep as he prepares to hold on to De Gendt on the final climb.
He has been strong so far but can he hold onto the Mont Ventoux Tour de France stagr winner?
Simon Gerrans leads the peloton now for Orica-Scott.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 4th Jun 2017 12:49:44
8km remaining from 170km
The gaps remains at 1:40 as De Gendt and Domont fight the gradient of the Côte de Rochetaillée.
De Gendt attacks alone and opens a gap.
The Belgian went away with 1km to the summit.
He's digging deep but has a good gap on Domont.
De Gendt leads Domont by 20 seconds as he starts the descent.
Nico roche leads Porte to the summit. Several riders have attacked off the front but are strigglnig to get away.
De Gendt is tucked low over his bike as he tries to stay clear and win the stage.
2km remaining from 170km
De Gendt can smell victory now. He's produced another quality ride to outsmart the peloton.
De Gendt is in the final kilometre. It's a great rider by the Belgian.
Here he comes!
De Gednt hits the lnies with his arms in the air. He's taken the stage and virtually every jersey available.
Domont finishes second at 44 seconds.
Diego Ulissi (UAE) was part of a small chase group and wins the sprint for third.
Sonny Colbreli brings home the peloton just behind.
De Gendt was naturally overjoyed to win the stage.
He also took the leader's yellow jersey and every other jersey except the best young rider's white jersey.
De Gendt believes he can keep the yellow jersey at least until Wednesday's time trial if not longer.
@Lotto_Soudal Sun, 4th Jun 2017 13:11:19
The first GC standings show that De Gendt leads Domont by 48 seconds, with Diego Ulissi third overall at 1:03.
The peloton of main contenders is at 1:09.
De Gendt pulls on the first yellow jersey of the 2017 Dauphine. He seems to like the colour.
De Gendt also pulls on the green points jersey and the red and white climber's polka-dot jersey. He's gonig to need a bigger suitcase.
"It’s great to finally win a stage at the Dauphine. I’ve tried a few times over the years and now I’ve finally got one," De Gendt said.
"I felt good all day and the start was really hard, so I knew I had a good chance to be in the break."
"We were seven good guys and so at one point we had six minutes and on this finishing circuit, you can’t really chase because we can go as fast as the peloton."
De Gendt explained he went into the stage with a more modest goal but came out of it with a stage win and the yellow jersey.
"I was going for the mountains jersey but now I can’t wear it because I’ve got the yellow jersey." he said.
"I think I’ve got a good chance to keep the jersey until the time trial or even longer. It’s great publicity for the team and so we’ll try to keep it. Yellow for a few days is always nice."
This is the top ten result for the stage.
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 4:17:04
2 Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:44
3 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Team UAE Emirates 0:00:57
4 Pierre Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
6 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:59
7 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Ben Swift (GBr) Team UAE Emirates
10 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana Pro Team
Most of the big name contenders have hit the rollers to warm down. Here is Chris Froome of Team Sky.
Here's the first image of De Gendt in the race leader's yellow jersey. He also got a LCL lion too, just like at the Tour de France.
We have some of the first race images of De Gendt's solo victory.
Here's Thomas De Gendt as he celebrates victory.
This image sums up todays stage in the hills around Saint-Etienne.
The Orica-Scott team dis much of the chasing in the finale but De Gendt escaped their efforts yet again.
Alberto Contador finished safely in the peloton and seemed to have enjoyed a day in the peloton.
Chris Froome spoke briefly at the finish.
"It was a good stage and good for us to get that one out of the way without any major issues," Froome explained after the race.
"It’s my first day of racing since Romanide. Today was a good day to blow out the cobwebs and it was pretty grippy in the final there."
Froome pointed out that Team Sky did their but to help the chase of the break early on.
"Thomas De Gendt did well today and he’ll definitely hold onto the jersey for a few days. He’s obviously going well, but once we hit the big climbs I expect he’ll give up the jersey at one point," he said.
"We did quite a bit of work early on, just to not let the break go too far, but it seemed like not many other people wanted to contribute until it was too late. For us it’s just about staying out of trouble, staying out of the wind and saving it for when it really matters."
Thanks for joining us for full live coverage of the opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine.
Look back at the updates and photos to get a full feel of the racing.
Check out our full stage report and photo gallery by clicking here.
Our reporters on the race will have exclusive interviews and news from the Dauphine on Cyclingnews every day during the eight-day race.
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