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Criterium du Dauphine 2018: Stage 1

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The peloton has rolled out of Valence and is negotiating the neutralised zone that leads to kilometre zero and the start of stage 1 of the Criterium du Dauphine. Today's stage begins with the category 2 Col de Leyrisse (8.5km at 4.5%), and so most riders opted to warm up on the rollers ahead of proceedings today.

Stage 1 of the Dauphine boasts 7 categorised climbs. The early Col de Leyrisse is followed by the category 3 hauls up the Col des Desaignes and Cote de Saint-Agreve. The category 4 Cote de Terriere comes after 89km, while there are three more category 4 climbs in the finale: the Cote de la Croix de Marlet, and then two laps over the Cote du Barrage de Grangent. It looks a day for a break to stay clear, particularly given the dearth of recognised sprint talent in this field.

There are two non-starters this morning, as the Sunweb duo of Laurens ten Dam and Chris Hamilton have withdrawn from the race, citing illness. Ten Dam and Hamilton both completed the recent Giro d'Italia. 

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) wears the yellow and blue jersey today after winning yesterday's prologue time trial. The top of the general classification is as follows:

Speaking ahead of the start in Valence, Kwiatkowski was hopeful that the few teams with sprint ambitions might help to control the racing today. "There’s only two chances for the guys who came here to sprint, so let's hope they can control it. Guys like Boasson Hagen can try for the win today," Kwiatkowski said. "I hope I can recover well from the prologue."

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Sunweb fast man Phil Bauhaus is among the riders to be jettisoned from the peloton in these stiff opening kilometres. 

Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Brice Feillu (Fortuneo – Samsic) and Lawson Craddock (EF-Drapac) have opened a gap on the peloton on the Col de Leyrisse.

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The establishment of this three-man break has helped to temper the intensity in the peloton, and there is something of a detente on the descent. Dropped riders, including Bauhaus, are successfully latching back on.

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Away from the Dauphine, it looks increasingly likely that Tom Dumoulin will line out at the Tour de France. The Dutchman refused to be drawn on the issue after placing second overall at the Giro d'Italia, but De Telegraaf reports this morning that Dumoulin will ride the Tour. Sunweb will not make the news official one way or another until later in the week, but De Telegraaf tends to be a very reliable reporter indeed of all things Dumoulin. Read more here.

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Last year's Tour de France confirmed to Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) that he cannot win a Grand Tour unless he improves markedly in the discipline. The Frenchman is still very much a work in progress against the watch, and he placed 48th yesterday, 23 seconds down on Kwiatkowski. Patrick Fletcher has more here on the efforts Bardet has been making to limit the damage in time trials.

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Vital Concept have joined the chase effort at the head of the peloton. Bryan Coquard is perhaps the pick of the sprint field at this race, and as the team has not been invited to the Tour de France, the Dauphine is the high point of the squad's summer.

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The three leaders are now on the day's third classified climb, the Côte de Saint-Agrève. Feillu, Craddock and Edet are working together smoothly, and are certainly giving themselves a fighting chance of going the distance this afternoon.

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Geraint Thomas looked course for a high finish in yesterday's prologue only to crash shortly after the midway point. The Welshman still managed to place 43rd, 21 seconds down on Kwiatkowski, and is safely in the peloton this afternoon. He will hope to recover from his injuries ahead of Wednesday's team time trial, the prelude to four tough days in the mountains in the second part of this Dauphine. "Hopefully it's not too bad. Obviously, I'm going to be sore the next few days," Thomas said. "Luckily they're not the hardest days in this race, so I've just got to try and put this behind me, look forward and get though it as best we can and hopefully we can do a good TTT together." You can read more here.

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Lawson Craddock finished a solid 16th in yesterday's prologue, and the American is enjoying his stint off the front here. 2017 was a difficult year for Craddock, who admitted to over-training in the first part of the season, but he showed signs of life at Amstel Gold Race, where he placed 9th, and at last month's Tour of California. Pat Malach spoke to Craddock in California, where the Texan said he was hoping to earn Tour de France selection with a strong ride at the Dauphine. You can read more here.

Lawson Craddock finished a solid 16th in yesterday's prologue, and the American is enjoying his stint off the front here. 2017 was a difficult year for Craddock, who admitted to over-training in the first part of the season, but he showed signs of life at Amstel Gold Race, where he placed 9th, and at last month's Tour of California. Pat Malach spoke to Craddock in California, where the Texan said he was hoping to earn Tour de France selection with a strong ride at the Dauphine. You can read more here.

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There has been a considerable injection of pace in the peloton since the feed zone in Tence, and the break's lead has dropped inside three minutes. All of a sudden, their task has taken on a very different complexion.

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The peloton seems satisfied that the break's advantage has been cut back to more manageable dimensions, and the gap has steadied at around the three-minute mark.

Michal Kwiatkowski leads the Dauphine and impressed in support of Chris Froome at last year's Tour de France, but the Pole was cautious about his prospects of winning this race overall. "With this race, this year, it's way harder than last year. There are four summit finishes, and I don't know if I can perform so well in the high mountains, especially for four days in a row. You never know," Kwiatkowski said. "We have to think positively – let's hope I can fly in the mountains." Patrick Fletcher has the full story here.

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Vincenzo Nibali produced a low-key performance in yesterday's prologue, but then again, the Italian was notably subdued at the 2014 Dauphine only to go on and dominated the Tour a month later. Small wonder, then, that Nibali was relaxed as he assessed his display on Sunday afternoon. "The Tour de France is still a month away," Nibali said. Read more here.

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James Knox sets the pace at the head of the peloton for Quick-Step Floors. There are also some Vital Concept jerseys up there for Bryan Coquard.

Quick-Step have (at least) a brace of options in the finale here. In the event of a bunch sprint, Scheldeprijs winner Fabio Jakobsen will be their man. If the rolling roads in the finale break things up, then Alaphilippe will surely be on alert.

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The GC contenders are also beginning to move up in the peloton ahead of this potentially fraught, rain-soaked finale. Romain Bardet is now towards the front, surrounded by his AG2R La Mondiale teammates.

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This has been an impressive cameo from Quick-Step's James Knox at the head of the peloton. The men in blue can also unleash Bob Jungels in support of Jakobsen on this finale.

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The rain has abated and the sun is poking through the clouds over Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert. 

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Lotto Soudal have taken up the reins in the peloton on the climb in an attempt to shake some of the pure sprinters loose ahead of the finish. Victor Campenaerts sits on the front and is setting a wickedly fast pace.

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They go past Teuns. Kwiatkowski moves to the front in defiance of Alaphilippe... Their accelerations have strung out the peloton, but there should still be a sizeable group in contention at the finish.

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Kwiatkowski and Adam Yates are well-placed towards the front on the last rise before the finish.

Michael Valgren goes from distance. It's an ambitious effort...

Daryl Impey kicks for home... Alaphilippe follows...

Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) wins stage 1 of Criterium du Dauphine.

Alaphilippe took second place, but he was some distance behind Impey, who produced a startlingly powerful sprint to claim the honours.

Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) took third on the stage.

Kwiatkowski will retain the overall lead, though Impey will move closer to him in second overall thanks to picking up the winner's time bonus. The South African is now just 2 seconds off Kwiatkowski's overall lead.

Daryl Impey speaks: "It was a tough day all day. I didn’t feel too good before the start and I actually told Alex Edmondson that he should go for it if he was up there. I surprised myself because in the end, I found myself in a good position and I went with 200 metres to go. I had no plan, and even when the team said in the meeting that I might go for stage, I thought it was far-fetched. To win at the Dauphiné is a nice step in my career. I just kept fighting to the end, it was nice to show myself that I could be there.”

Result:

General classification:

Kiel Reijnan remounted after his crash and reached the finish in 150th place on the stage, 12:09 behind Impey. Groupama-FDJ's David Gaudu also lost time after he was caught up in a crash, coming in 8:52 down.

CRESCENDO, Cyclingnews' second film in association with La Pédale is available to buy or rent on Vimeo. The film goes behind the scenes to present a number of the storylines from the dramatic final week of the Giro d'Italia. You can watch the trailer here.

Thanks for joining our live coverage today of the Criterium du Dauphine on Cyclingnews. A full report, results and pictures are available here. We'll be back with more tomorrow from stage 2, and in the meantime we'll have all the news and reaction from Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert.

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