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Critérium du Dauphiné stage 1 - Live coverage

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Good morning and welcome to our live race coverage from stage 1 of the Criterium du Dauphine. The sun is out, the riders are finished with their sign on and we should have the official start in about 20 minutes from now.

Looking at the profile of today's stage, it's one for the climbers, but every stage in this year's race is either an up-hill finish or an all-out mountain summit. There's nothing for the sprinters or the time trialists over the next five days.

Stage 1 of Criterium du Dauphine

(Image credit: ASO)

Some quick and breaking news and Michael Woods has signed for Israel Start-Up nation. He apparently signed a long term deal at EF last year but now he's off to join Chris Froome in 2021. That's a massive signing. Or as the Sun would say, MASSIVE. Here's the story.

You have to admit that the Israel line up for next  year is starting to really come  together nicely. In the last week they've signed Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Carl Fredrik Hagen (Lotto-Soudal), and Patrick Bevin (CCC). Now they've nabbed Woods.

Back  to the race here and we have seven categorised climbs on the menu, with an uphill finish that should suit the likes of Pogcar,  Bernal, Roglic, and of course Alaphilippe, who has found form in the last couple of weeks. We're about 10 mins from the race start and we can expect attacks from the gun.

About five minutes ago the riders rolled through the neutralized zone. It's an incredible start list - and easily the best we've seen in years. It's amazing what happens when you don't have two major WorldTour stage races overlapping. Here's the  start list

We've just caught a glimpse of Richie Porte near the front of the bunch. He's here for stages and the GC, and as he said last night would love to win or the Col de Porte - where we finish on stage 2. He's in okay form and has a good record in the race with two second places overall and a stage win. Here's our Porte news from this morning.

Honestly, unless you're a big snooker fan, and you really, really shouldn't be, you should stick with us for the next few hours.

We've talked about Michael Woods, and we'll go into greater depth on that later but in women's cycling, we still don't know where the best rider in the world will be next year. Here's our women's editor, Kirsten Frattini on Van Vleuten's options

Patrick Fletcher is taking over our live coverage for a short time. Over to you Patrick.

Thanks Daniel. I'll start by jumping to snooker's defense. Brilliant sport. And it is a sport. 

The stage is officially underway and here come the first attacks to try and form a breakaway.

Five riders have gone up the road:

Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal)

Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie)

Michael Schär (CCC Team)

Quinten Hermans (Circus-Wanty Gobert)

Tom-Jelte Slagter (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) 

This looks like the break of the day, as they take their lead out past the minute-mark.

15 kilometres gone and the break have three minutes in hand now. On paper, this is the gentlest day of the race, but there'll still be a big GC battle, so we'll see how the powers that be in the peloton go about controlling this break. Five riders isn't a lot when you've got more than 200km to cover. 

We have a first shot of the break. That's Schär on the front, who featured heavily in our 'best domestique in the world' survey earlier this year. He's off with Greg Van Avermaet to AG2R next year. Who isn't?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The break are on the uphill drag towards the first of the categorised climbs, the short-but-steep Côte du Château d'Aulteribe (1km at 8.2%). After that it's the more significant Col du Béal, at the top of which Chris Froome beat Alberto Contador to the line to win stage 2 of the 2014 Dauphiné.

This stage also bears resemblance to a future race, as the first 130km are the same as will be used for stage 14 of the Tour de France next month. While we head for a hillier finale today, the Tour stage will finish in the centre of Lyon, albeit after a couple of late kickers. Alaphilippe will win both, basically. 

The breakaway hit the Côte de Château d’Aulteribe with a lead of 4:30.

Back. Just to confirm, Patrick. If you don't need to change your footwear - it's not a proper sport.

Quinten Hermans (Circus-Wanty Gobert) was first over the climb by the way, and he and his companions have a 4:30 buffer over the peloton with 180km remaining. 

The  leaders will be climbing soon enough as we head towards the foot of the Col du Beal - a second category ascent. It's not hard but even the long approach to the climb is uphill. 

We've picked out 10 rides to watch in the race. The list, as you might imagine,  is dominated by GC riders, and of course riders from Jumbo Visma and Team Ineos.

If you're wondering about the working conditions for us journalists at major races, here's a pic from Peter Cossins,  our man on the ground at the Dauphine. Journalists go into pens and riders pass through a mix zone - a bit like the protocol at Worlds - but with face mask and social distancing rules.

Michael Schär (CCC Team) took the maximum points at the earlier intermediate sprint. The CCC rider is off to AG2R next year with Greg Van Avermaet with the French team set to become a major force in the Spring Classics. Bob Jungels could also be on his way - he had offers from both Ag2R and Bahrain McLaren. 

171km

171km left to race and the  five leaders are still holding their 4'30 advantage over the peloton as Deceuninck and Jumbo Visma set the pace on the front of the peloton. 

The riders have relatively low temperatures given what  they've experienced in the last couple of weeks with a fresher 25 degrees at the moment. That doesn't make the racing all together easy, as we see the five leaders start to climb. We're not even at the  foot of the Col du Beal yet.

The five leaders have stolen another 60 seconds on the chasing bunch with their advantage up to 5'30. 164km to go.

A few years ago we might have been talking about Tom-Jelte Slagter as a potential candidate for the finish today. The punchy little climber won the Tour Down Under, and two stages in Paris-Nice but he had a torrid time at Dimension Data - save for third place in the TDU in 2018. He's at a French squad now and is rebuilding his career, and while the form isn't quite there at the moment, he's showing some intent   by riding in the break today.

Niccolò Bonifazio  - also  in the break - is another rider  who has dropped down from WorldTour to ProConti in the last couple of years. He's flourished since taking a step down in the leagues, and won a stage in Paris-Nice earlier this year. We can expect to see him in a number of breaks this week. 

Onto the  Col du Beal and the  five leaders are holding their 5'30 advantage with 153km to go. Once over the top, it's a super-fast descent into the valley.

147km

The leaders crest the top of the Col du Beal with their 5'30 lead.  No confirmation on race radio regarding the points but we're likely to have a KOM jersey wearer coming from our five out front.

A big piece on Romain Bardet on CN this morning from Barry Ryan. The Frenchman talks extensively about his move to Sunweb and why he's leaving the team he's raced for throughout his racing career. The piece is just here.

By the way, if you're looking at trying to find a live stream for the Dauphine, please check out our handy guide the best streaming services, right here.

140km to go

Both the five-rider break and the peloton are on the long descent of the  Col du Beal.

KOM points

At the top of  the climb the results were as follows (thanks to our friends at ASO).

1. Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Énergie), 5 pts
2. Quinten Hermans (Circus-Wanty Gobert), 3 pts
3. Tom-Jelte Slagter (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept), 2 pts
4. Michael Schär (CCC Team), 1 pt

It's still QuickStep and Jumbo Visma leading the charge at the front of the bunch but their strategy at the moment is more about containment than anything else with the gap holding at 5'30. We haven't talked about Ineos that much this morning and like you I'm start to suffer from withdrawal symptoms. We'll have a look at their roster in just a moment.

This is very close to their Tour line up. Bernal, Thomas, Castroviejo, Sivakov, and van Baarle are certainly in but some questions over Kwiatkowski and Froome given we've not seen  the Pole in a stage race since Algarve, and there are the questions over Froome's role. Amador was impressive last week and he's in with a good shout, while it's hard to see the team leaving Luke Rowe at home - although he's not here.

Race radio has crackled into life and told us that Jan Hirt (CCC) has abandoned the race. That's a blow for the Polish team because the Czech rider was in decent form at the Tour de  L'Ain. He's also been linked with a move to ISN for 2021.

Côte de Courreau

Back to the front of the race and the five leaders are onto the Côte de Courreau. It's 4km in length and not too tricky, with an average gradient just over 5 per cent. The gap though is down to 4'35 with 126km to go.

Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Énergie)  has sat up and been caught by the main field. The gap is at 4'30.

On the descent of the climb and it's Team Ineos who lead the charge with 117km to go. After the descent we have a long section of flat roads and the feedzone before we reach the final cluster of climbs.

Hermans and Van Moer have slipped off the front of  the break and they have over two minutes on the other two riders in the move. 114km to go and the race is already splitting up at the head of affairs. The bunch, meanwhile, are at 4'20.

Crash and break update - 112km to go

Correction on that, with race radio now stating that Bonifazio has quit the race but so too have Van Moer and Hermans after crashing. That leaves just Slagter and Schär at the head of the race.

According to reports,  Bonifazio had back problems, and that's forced him out of the break and out of the race. 

We've got two races going on today, and CNblimp2 is over at Gran Piemonte. To follow our live coverage from Italy, head over here.

101km to go

Just a  shade over 100km to go and the gap is down to 3'30 with the two remaining leaders - Schar and Slagter, losing another minute to the peloton. They lost three companions in the space of one climb, and they're really up against it. Will the peloton allow them some respite? 

We can see a few Astana jerseys near the front  of the peloton. They come into the race with a good team but they're without the defending champion Fuglsang. Lopez leads their cause but his form has been  inconsistent at best since returning to Europe and it will be interesting to see how he stacks up today on the final climb.

Bora don't get a look-in when we talk about  stage racing but  they have Buchmann here and the German was fourth in the Tour de France last year. This is his first race back since quitting the UAE Tour back in the Spring so it could be major shock to the system, given the tough finish that we have. The Bora team also have Sagan here as  he fine-tunes his form ahead of the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia.

88km to go

The race heads through Saint-André-Le-Puy , and the gap is down to just over three minutes.

Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) has crashed. 86km to go and the German has hit the deck. More to follow.

We catch a glimpse of Adam Yates. He might try for stages this week but isn't going to push too hard  for the GC because of a recent illness. 

Situation

Schar and Slagter lead the peloton by 3'10 with 80km to go.

Good news with Buchmann back in the bunch after his fall. Hardly the return to racing that would have been aiming for.

Just three minutes now for the leaders as the pressure starts to grow. We have the Côte de Saint-Héand coming up in about 25km from now and  at this rate they won't make the summit before the catch is made. 

Egan Bernal this morning was  asked if he wanted Chris Froome in the Tour de France team. His  response: 'Yeah for sure [I want him in the team]. He's a rider who has a lot of experience. For sure, to have a seven-times Grand Tour winner in the team is something important. So yes, for sure I would like to have him in the team'. 

Back in the race and the two leaders have 2'45 over the bunch. We had  five riders in the break earlier but one sat up and pulled out due to back pain  and two then crashed. It's been a long day for the escapees. 

We have the Côte de Saint-Héand coming up and then the Montée Andreï Kivilev, which pays homage to the former Cofidis rider who tragically crashed in Paris-Nice in 2003 and lost his life. That accident paved the way for serious reform when it came to helmet wearing in the bunch. Then we have the Côte de Leymieux, Col de la Gachet and then the finish up at Saint-Christo-en-Jarez.

We're not yet at the foot of the Côte de Saint-Héand but already the road points upwards, with Jumbo-Visma and Quickstep setting the tempo.

The pressure is rising and so is the mercury as we top out at 30 degrees. We're going to have a very select group at the finish today. 

Just behind Jumbo and QuickStep we have Ineos bunched together. Astana,  Bora, EF and Movistar are all near the front too. 

55km to go  and the gap has at least moved back out to three minutes. Tony Martin is second wheel at the moment and has been helping to set the pace all day. At the front of the race Slagter and Schar share a few words, shake hands and the CCC rider pushes on alone as we start to climb.

Sivakov  has moved Ineos to the front of the peloton and the pace has eased for just a moment. Porte is close to the action to as well Politt towards the back. The German  crashed early in the race.

After his earlier fall, Bora have brought Buchmann to the front. There's a fair amount of road furniture out there right now, so teams want to keep their riders safe and sound.

Schar is 1km from the summit of the Côte de Saint-Héand and if he can keep this up will be in contention for the KOM jersey at the end of the day. He'll certainly take the combativity award.

Dan Martin near the back of the bunch right now but this finish is perfect for a Dan Martin finish. The question is whether he has the right form. He's improving all the time as we see Schar on the descent of the previous climb. The gap is at 2'52 and the CCC rider is doing an incredible job considering that he's been on his own for a while now.

Slagter, meanwhile, is about to be caught by the bunch. No glory for the Dutchman today.

Bahrain McLaren bring Landa to the front. Not sure if he has the punch to win a stage like today but he's another firm favourite for the podium on GC. He comes here with a formidable team around him as well.

Schar is onto the Montée Andreï Kivilev, a fourth cat climb that's 3.6km in length. He has  2'39 over the peloton with 41km to go.

We see Kristoff for a second. Honestly, sending a sprinter to this race is just cruel. He needs the miles, I guess, and maybe he'll benefit from the workout later in the year, but still.

Schar has gone over the climb with a 1'30 lead. He crosses the finish line for the first time with 34km to go. Schar is far from finished but the  wheels are starting to fall off as two riders go clear. 

It's Andersen and Cavagna.

A number of riders have started  to droop off  the back of the bunch as Pacher makes it three chasers, alongside Andersen and Cavagna. 

And Pacher goes alone, dropping the other two riders.  Back in the bunch and  Benoot is near the front and looking good. 

Van Garderen, who was on the podium last year,  is off the back. That's a surprise at this stage.

32km to go and  Schar has 53 seconds on Pacher. Then we have Andersen and  Cavagna and then the bunch.

Pacher is flying right now and on the descent he's going to catch Schar at this rate. The gap between the two is just 17 seconds.

The peloton are closing too with the gap at 42 seconds. 

This descent is sketchy at best as we see Pacher makes contact with Schar with 24km to go. Meanwhile, Ineos hit the  front of the peloton.

We said this descent was sketchy and Pacher loses his front wheel as he pushes through the corner and he comes down. Schar held back and he makes it through and leads the race once more. 

Mitchelton Scott have moved up at the front of the bunch as they lead Adam Yates into contention. He  must be feeling good. Schar though, with 22km to go is about to be joined by Cavagna and Andersen.

FDJ come  to the front with Kung setting  the pace for Pinot. Cavagna gets on the radio as the three leaders hesitate. The QuickStep rider wont' work and neither will Andersen, so Schar goes again. 20km to and the  CCC rider is once more on his own. 

Schar is then passed by Cavagna who is leading the race now with Andersen going after him.  16km to go  as the Frenchman looks to set up Alaphilippe. 

The bunch are closing though, the gap at 12 seconds. 

Andersen then sits up and Jumbo Visma hit the front with  two more climbs to come.

Cavanga is hugely talented but winning  here is surely too much  to ask for. He has 16 seconds at the moment with 15km to go as Gesink looks to chase the QuickStep  rider down.

All the big GC favourites are still in the game, although Van Garderen, who was on the podium last year, has been dropped.

It's a huge turn from Gesink but the gap to the lone leader is holding at 16 seconds. 

9 seconds and Cavagna sits up. All back together with 13.km to go.

Jumbo continue to line  the peloton out as we climb the penultimate ascent. Roglic is second wheel at the moment as we see more and more riders slip back.

These roads are so tight and technical that there are few places to  attack, especially with this pace from Gesink. It's relentless. 

Alaphilippe is with Pinot but he has no teammates left with 11.1km to go as Gesink starts to show the strain. 

Close to the summit. Will we see an attack?

Gesink leads us over the top and it's all together. Jumbo still have Dumoulin, Van Aert, Kuss and Roglic in the frame. 

Inside the final 10km and Jumbo Visma continue to set the pace. Quintana and Landa are both there, so too Froome, Bernal and Thomas.

Gesink surely can't keep this up... Kuss will take over soon. 

We're down to about  50 riders with  6.9km to go with 6 Jumbo riders still on the front. 

Froome is near the back of the bunch and on his own, with no teammates. He hasn't been dropped but he's not in the  Ineos line as Arkea ride alongside Jumbo Visma.

Ineos are just waiting, just two or three rows back. 4.6km to go.

Onto the Col de la Gachet and Kuss  takes over but there's pressure from all around. Froome is still  holding onto the back of the bunch.

Valverde is there but  Froome isn't. He off the back  with a teammate. 

A few  spots of rain have started to fall  with 3.4km to go.

Arkea take things up ad now there's an attack from Uran with 2.9km to go.

Roglic goes after him.

Huge attacks being thrown down as Martin and Quintana come over and the bunch come back together but are strung out. 2.3km to go.

Latour goes  next with 2.2km to go.

But Jumbo Visma and Dumoulin shut that down and Benoot goes next with Dumoulin once again chasing.

Formolo is up there too as Dumoulin sets the pace. 

Dan Martin is also there as Jumbo Visma riders spread out. Van Aert is there and Bernal. 1500m to go.

Jumbo will lead this out for an uphill sprint.

1km to go over the climb and then it's down and then up to  the line.

800m to go.

Roglic is third and Van Aert in second. 500m to go.

Van Aert opens up his sprint for the line. This is incredible. 

Impey is closing, and Pogacar but Van Aert is going to take this.

Wout van Aert win stage 3 of the Dauphine.  Who else?

Bernal and Valverde were up there, I  think Dan Martin too but van Aert was just unstoppable on the final ramp.

Impey was second, and Bernal third on the line so he picks up some bonus seconds on the GC battle.

Here's our top ten for the stage

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 5:27:42
2Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
3Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Team Ineos
4Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
5Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
6Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
7Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Pro Cycling
8Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
9Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma
10Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis

General classification after stage 1
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 5:27:32
2Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:04
3Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Team Ineos 0:00:06
4Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:10
5Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
6Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
7Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Pro Cycling
8Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
9Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma
10Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis

Jumbo Visma were in control from start to finish, almost treating that like a bunch sprint. 

Meanwhile, breaking news from the UCI with the World Championships pulled from the calendar in Switzerland at least, due to COVID restrictions. Here's the story.

Let's hear from today's winner:

"Apparently I have good legs. I came really tired to the hotel yesterday, after a few days off. The team still wanted to do a perfect job for me today because we saw some chances in the stage. When you have riders like Tony Martin and all these strong leaders, they pulled for me in the end, I had so much motivation to do all I could in the sprint. It was just a great victory. It was good for us we saw the finish line already, we had a better view than on the computer. When we passed through (the first time) I told the guys I was feeling good and wanted to give it a go.  When we started to go uphill I had a whole yellow train in front - even in the end we had Primoz [Roglic] and Steven [Kruijswijk] are still the leaders but this is a big team victory. We keep the momentum."

You can find our brief results, report and images from the stage, right here.

Looking down the results, Froome lost over five minutes today. 

All of the other GC riders you'd expect to be up there were in contention. A bit of a surprise was that Alaphilippe was only 13th.

Let's also hear from  Daryl Impey:  For a lot of guys it's their first race back. Personally I felt pretty good. I actually had good feelings - to lose to Wout is OK - it would be nice to beat him. To walk away with second on quite a hard day it's really nice. I knew I had to be close enough to Wout, unfortunately I had Bernal and Kwiatkowski between me. I tried to take a run on the right but they also went right. I kind of lost my speed - I eventually got through but Wout already had quite a gap. I was catching a bit but he was just too strong

Don't forget we are still providing live coverage from Gran Piemonte. You can find our live page,  right here.

You can find our report from Gran Piemonte, right here.

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