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Criterium du Dauphine 2019: Stage 1

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I hope you're ready for some more live cycling action because the start of the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine is just under 20 minutes away. It's not an easy start to the week with a category 1 climb coming less than 30km into the stage. 

For a look at what's to come over the next week we have a full race preview. You can also check out our five riders to watch feature.

Defending champion Geraint Thomas is not here this year, as he races the Tour de Suisse in preparation for the Tour de France. Team Ineos still have some serious firepower in another former winner Chris Froome. This is their line-up. 

Romain Bardet received a pretty big cheer from the crowd as he signed on this morning. Bardet grew up around an hour and a half down the road from where today's stage starts, Aurillac. He has some big ambitions here and he's got a strong team to back him. 

Thiabut Pinot is from much further down away than Bardet, but he would still be a popular winner if he could pull it off. The Groupama-FDJ rider was not holding back when he laid out his plans for the Dauphine, saying that he's going to race as aggressively as he can and hope that the overall win will come with it. This is his first time at the race since 2016. Read what he had to say here

The riders roll out of Aurillac for the neutral start and we can expect the flag for racing to drop at 10 past the hour. It should be a challenging start with the first category Puy Mary, followed by four more classified climbs. 

This is Richie Porte signing on a short while ago. He's had a slow start to the season but there were some good signs with his fifth overall at the Tour of California. What can he do this week?

This is a relaxed looking Dan Martin at the start. He hasn't raced since he had to leave the Ardennes early due to illness so it will be interesting to see how he has recovered. He certainly looks a lot better off than he did in April. 

Since the flag dropped, we've had relentless attacking so far but the peloton hasn't let a breakaway go just yet. Today will be a good day for anyone hoping for some points in the mountains classification.

This was the scene just before racing began. A lot of different teams represented there, looking to get in on the action. 

Today's weather forecast is a bit of a mixed bag. It's dry, but it's not too warm at 14 degrees and we could see some rain later in the day. 

We have a six-man move up the road now and after 11km of racing they have 1:25 over the peloton. The riders are Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Magnus Cort (Astana), Niklas Eg (Trek-Segafredo), Fabien Doubey (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb), Julien Vermote (Dimension Data).

It can be an odd dynamic in the peloton when a race starts with a stage like this. There is no leader's team to control things, so it is left up to the bunch to decide who sets the pace. For now, Bora-Hansgrohe have opted to work on the front. They have GC rider Emanuel Buchmann in their line-up, and they will be looking to win stages with Sam Bennett later in the race. 

Could they even be thinking about a stage win for Bennett today? It's a very challenging day, but there is 18 kilometres from the top of the last climb to the finish line so it's not completely out of the question. We'll have to wait and see how he manages with all of the climbing.

120km remaining from 142km

This are our six out side. Not a group that you would want to give too much space if you're looking to be in contention for the victory. Some big firepower in this group of six, not least the man at the front of the picture Oliver Naesen. 

The riders are onto the first climb of the day, the Puy Mary. This is what they are facing. 

Having seen Oliver Naesen in the break, if you feel like listening to him speak then why not check out our behind the scenes look at Naesen and his fellow Belgian Yves Lampaert riding the Worlds course in Yorkshire. You can find it here

The gap to the leaders did grow to 3:20, but as the climb begins to bite it has gone down again and the six up front have 2:25 on the peloton behind. 

Shane Archbold has been doing the main bulk of the work for Bora-Hansgrohe on the front this morning. After initially being forced to drop back down to Continental level following the demise of the Aqua Blue team, Archbold was snapped up by Bora-Hansgrohe in April. He's been putting in the graft since, as he looks to make this a long-term thing. He previously raced with the team between 2015 and 2017. 

There are reports of rain on the Puy Mary, but it doesn't seem to heavy at the moment. The riders will be hoping this is a temporary state of affairs. 

After cresting the Puy Mary, the gap has grown out a little bit. The six riders now have a 2:40 lead, which is still fairly slim. No news on who took the points at the top, but I'll let you know as soon as I do. 

The average speed over the opening kilometre of racing was 33.1kph. Bora-Hansgrohe continue to set the pace with Cesare Benedetti now working on the front. 

It was Casper Pedersen that got over the top of the Puy Mary first, taking 10 points for his troubles. Here are the full standings from the opening climb of the day. 

I mentioned a few of the overall contenders earlier, and Tom Dumoulin is another. The Dutchman is unsure how he's going, after he abandoned the Giro d'Italia with a knee injury in the first week. The Dauphine will be a bit of a testing ground for Dumoulin ahead of the Tour de France. Go well here and he should be good for the Tour, but he has said that if he struggles here then it will be difficult to get into full form for July. Read Dumoulin's full comments here

The descent off the Puy Mary is quite long and the riders are still working their way down. There was a brief rise around halfway down, before the road headed downwards again. A little further down the descent, the riders will find the intermediate sprint in Salers. They will then continue their downward trajectory towards the foot of the second climb of the day, the fourth category Cote de Besse. 

90km remaining from 142km

A lovely picture of the peloton making its way through the trees earlier. 

The leaders are through the intermediate sprint in Salers with Julien Vermote taking the full complement of points here, with three bonus seconds to boot. Here are the results from the intermediate sprints. 

Over the next week, it's not just the Criterium du Dauphine going on. The extended six-day Ovo Energy Women's Tour begins tomorrow and you can read Kirsten Frattini's full preview of the race here. With all five of the past champions set to ride it should be a corker of a race. 

75km remaining from 142km

After taking the points on the first climb, Pedersen has added another point to his haul on the Besse. There was just one point on offer there, so none of the other riders has earned one. 

Next up on the menu for the riders is the third category Cote de Saint-Cernin. It is a 4.8km climb that averages 4.3%. 

Of course, the Criterium du Dauphine is the final Tour de France preparation for many of the riders in the peloton. With less than a month until the Tour starts, we've taken a look at how some of the GC riders are going in our monthly Form Ranking. Take a look at that here

Our resident tech-spert Josh Evans has been keeping a keen eye on what the riders are using at the Dauphine. This morning, he spotted a new Cannondale SuperSix EVO at the start. Take a look at what he saw, here

57km remaining from 142km

Meanwhile, Pedersen has added another two points to his mountains classification pocket with Eg taking a solitary point. 

The leader's advantage is coming down quickly now as the race passes through the finish for the first time today. They head out on a long finishing circuit with just a 2:05 gap on the peloton behind. 

A correction has just been issued, it was Doubey and not Eg taking the second point on the last climb. No time to worry about that too much as the riders approach the fourth climb of the day the Roquenatou, a second category climb at 3.6km long with an average gradient of 7%.

The peloton are drawing ever closer to the leaders on this finishing loop. As the riders crest the penultimate climb, the gap is now 1:49 over the bunch. 

We now have just five men in the breakaway as Julien Vermote drops back, perhaps to lend the team a hand in the finale of today's stage. 

40km remaining from 142km

One rider that probably won't be involved in the finish today is Nacer Bouhanni. The Frenchman has been distanced from the peloton. The team still has Geoffrey Soupe in the bunch. 

Vermote is now back in the clutches of the peloton. 

35km remaining from 142km

On a small descent, you can seen just how quickly Bora-Hansgrohe are pushing as three of their riders actually pull out a gap on the rest of the pack. Perhaps a little bit of panic setting in? We still have another classified climb to come, so anything can still happen. 

The breakaway is not holding back, though. Naesen and Eg look keen to push on and they've slightly distanced their companions. Pedersen has to close the gap to them with Cort and Doubey in his wheel. The gap is now 1:32 as the leaders travel along at 44kph. 

30km remaining from 142km

This high pace is taking victims with riders being distanced dramatically off the back of the bunch, which is in one long line. This is a real battle between the breakaway and the peloton right now. 

As the gap comes down to 1:25, the pace relents just a little. The bunch is somewhat happier with this gap. It is still ticking down as we approach the final climb of the day.

The riders will be familiar with the final ascent as they have already climbed it. It is the second category Roquenatou. 

24km remaining from 142km

The first sighting of Deceuninck-QuickStep on the front of the bunch with Tim Declercq. They have Alvaro Hodeg in their line-up, a serious contender in the sprint if he can hang on. 

21km remaining from 142km

Astana still do have Alexey Lutsenko in the peloton. He's not a sprinter as such, but he's got a fast finish and a solid bet on a day like today. 

And then there were four. Niklas Eg can no longer keep up with the pace as the riders start the final climb. He has been dropped. Meanwhile, QuickStep are really putting the hammer down in the peloton with Stybar doing a big turn. 

Stybar is doing some serious damage right now and the bunch has been blown apart. His teammate Julian Alaphilippe is up in the front group, along with Michal Kwiatkowski. Meanwhile, the leading group now has just three riders and 21 seconds as Pedersen loses touch. 

19km remaining from 142km

Doubey is the latest rider to lose contact with the leaders. We now have just Naesen and Cort remaining. They have just 10 seconds on Lambrecht, who is fast catching them on this climb. One kilometre to the top of the final ascent. 

Naesen is having to put in a big effort to get up this climb. This is not his terrain. Lambrecht makes contact with the two leaders and drops them quickly as we can now see the peloton right behind them. This about to all come together. 

17km remaining from 142km

Onto the descent, the gap between the three leaders and the peloton has grown out to 20 seconds as Gregor Muhlberger is trying to bridge across. 

13km remaining from 142km

Mitchelton-Scott now doing a shift on the front of the bunch, which looks to have around 60 or so riders in it. The roads are pretty narrow and it's hard to get a proper look a the pack, but it seems the major contenders are still in there. 

10km remaining from 142km

In an overhead shot, I can see that Lutsenko is still in that main group, as is Daryl Impey and Edvald Boasson Hagen. They're all fast finishers and would stand a chance, if the peloton can catch the leaders. 

7km remaining from 142km

If the breakaway do make it, then I would put my money on Magnus Cort taking it. He is by far the quickest in this trio. 

5km remaining from 142km

Right now, the three leaders are working together but Lambrecht will have to attack if he wants to win the stage. Naesen could probably gamble and go up against Cort in the finale. 

Damien Howson is doing a mighty turn at the moment. Mitchelton-Scott have been working hard to try and bring this back. The gap is now just 11 seconds but there are only three kilometres remaining. 

This is like a tug of war as one group seems to be gaining but then the favour swings towards the other group. The peloton can see the leaders now and it looks like they might make the catch. 

Quintana is sitting at the back of the bunch. They're in the final three k, so he's safe in terms of time losses due to crashes. 

1km remaining from 142km

The leaders have been caught now 

QuickStep push on

But it is Boasson Hagen that wins.

QuickStep did a good job trying to lead that out for Gilbert, but Boasson Hagen just had too much power. Wout van Aert took third place.

Some words from today's winner. 

As Boasson Hagen says, this is a big result for the Dimension Data team. They've had a horrible time of it of late and have been scratching around for wins. With that victory, Boasson Hagen takes the race lead with a four-second lead over Philippe Gilbert, thanks to bonus seconds. 

That is Boasson Hagen's third win of the year after he took the opening time trial at the Valenciana in February and a stage of the Tour of Norway. It's his first WorldTour win since he claimed a stage of the 2017 Tour de France. 

This is the top 10 from today's stage.

And this is how the general classification looks after that opening stage. 

You can see how much this win means to Boasson Hagen.

For today's report, results and images from the stage then head here. It will be updated over the next hour. 

That is it from our live coverage today. Tune in tomorrow for stage 2. 

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