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Criterium du Dauphine 2017: Stage 1

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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.

 

Bonjour and welcome to our live coverage of the Criterium du Dauphine.

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.

This was the scene just before the riders left the start in Saint-Etienne.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) also spoke briefly before the start.

As ever, Froome looked calm and relaxed before the start.

They're off!

Daniel Benson spoke to Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) before the start.

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. 

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.

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:

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 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.

To read all the pre-race comments we gathered at the start in Saint-Etienne, click here. 

Fabio Aru (Astana) is back in action today after his spring was wrecked by illness and injury.

135km remaining from 170km

We listed six of the seven riders in the attack. The seventh is Silvio Herklotz (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Fabio Aru also has a new bike to go with his white Sardinian helmet. 

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.

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.

113km remaining from 170km

The peloton is close to 6:00 back on the break now.

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.

105km remaining from 170km

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 riders then face the Côte de Tarentaise after 110km.

Fortunately for the riders, the finish is on a straight road.

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.

Here is Colbrelli speaking to CN's Patrick Fletecher before the start of the stage.

90km remaining from 170km

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.

Froome knows that the Dauphine will be decided in the final mountain stages and he is targeting overall victory.

To read the full interview with Chris Froome, click here.

72km remaining from 170km

Alexander Kristoff has been linked to a number of teams, with Astana reportedly leading the way to sign him.

To read the full interview with Kristoff, click here.

66km remaining from 170km

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. 

70km remaining from 170km

The gap to the break is down to below 5:00 for the first time as the race hits the Côte de Tarentaise. 

The Astana team is now leading the chase, perhaps hopnig to set up Alexei Lutsenko or Luis Leon Sanchez.

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. 

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. 

To read the full Cyclingnews interview with Chaves click here.

37km remaining from 170km

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.

De Gendt continues to hover uo climber points on the Côte de Rochetaillée.

30km remaining from 170km

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.

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

The twisting roads will make it hard for the peloton to close the gap.

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.

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.

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

15km remaining from 170km

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.

De Gendt is leading down the descent, with Domont taking a slightly different line on each corner.

We will also see if the overall contenders will try to test their rivals.

10km remaining from 170km

Simon Gerrans leads the peloton now for Orica-Scott.

8km remaining from 170km

De Gendt attacks alone and opens a gap.

The Belgian went away with 1km to the summit.

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 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.

De Gendt was naturally overjoyed to win the stage. 

De Gendt believes he can keep the yellow jersey at least until Wednesday's time trial if not longer.

The first GC standings show that De Gendt leads Domont by 48 seconds, with Diego Ulissi third overall at 1:03.

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."

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.

This is the top ten result for the stage.

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.

Froome pointed out that Team Sky did their but to help the chase of the break early on.

Thanks for joining us for full live coverage of the opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine.

Check out our full stage report and photo gallery by clicking here.

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