Wout van Aert launches this Critérium du Dauphiné. This Sunday, the Belgian champion won the first stage of this 74th edition in a sprint, after 191.8 kilometers between La Voulte-sur-Rhône and Beauchastel. On arrival, the resident of the Jumbo-Visma formation is ahead of the Briton Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) and the American Sean Quinn (EF Education-EasyPost). Best Frenchman of the day, Hugo Page (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) takes a good fourth place. For his part, Van Aert also took the opportunity to take the yellow jersey of leader of the general classification of this event.
This hilly stage, contested exclusively in the department of Ardèche, had not taken long to come alive. And from the parade, the Spaniard Imanol Erviti (Movistar) then had to be examined by the medical service of the race, after falling. A fall that even led to his abandonment a few kilometers later. Despite traditional attacks from the first kilometres, the peloton came together when tackling the first difficulty of the day, the climb to the Col de Leyrisse, classified in the second category and 10 kilometers long at 4.2% of medium slope. On this climb, the peloton didn’t let anyone escape.
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Rolland, the first mountain leader
But by dint of insisting, the Frenchman Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), the most experienced rider in the peloton with thirteen participations in the event, ended up getting his exit ticket. Before being joined by his compatriot Maxime Bouet (Arkéa-Samsic), who left on the counter-attack, along with the Belgian Laurens Huys (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux). Before the junction between the three men, made after the summit, the peloton had already slowed down. The gap then continued to increase, but in the end it did not exceed 3’10”, to stabilize around 2′ for a large part of the race. Because the peloton obviously already had the finish in mind, promised to a sprinter.
Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM), Maxime Bouet (Arkea-Samsic) and Laurens Huys (Intermarché Wanty Gobert)
Credit: Getty Images
And it is with this in mind that at the head of this one, the Australian formation Bike Exchange-Jayco, in which evolves a certain Dylan Groenewegen, had taken things in hand, by placing two of his men then the of its workforce, accompanied by a rider from the Jumbo-Visma. In front, the leading men resisted as much as possible, even passing together at the top of the Côte des Baraques, classified in the third category and 3.4 kilometers long with an average gradient of 6.6%, and the Côte du Chambon de Bavas. , classified as third category and 4.7 kilometers long with an average gradient of 5.2%. A last climb crossed twice, insofar as the route of this first stage was composed of two loops, with a first passage over the finish line, near Beauchastel, at the 62nd kilometer and after 129 kilometers of effort .
At the very beginning of the final ascent, the Trek-Segafredo formation, led by its Frenchmen Julien Bernard and Kenny Elissonde, blasted the peloton, which lost elements, including Dylan Groenewegen and Phil Bauhaus. A big acceleration, which also had the effect of considerably reducing the gap with the leading men. If Maxime Bouet was caught 34.5 kilometers from the finish, Pierre Rolland and Laurens Huys attempted a last last stand, before giving up their arms about 32 kilometers away. By taking the lead at the top of all the difficulties of the day, Pierre Rolland consoled himself by also donning the best climber’s polka dot jersey, also with the price of combativeness. A tunic that the Frenchman has already won in 2008, when he discovered the event.
Groenewegen and several sprinters failed to come back
While the German Simon Geschke (Cofidis) and the Belgian Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) then left the peloton, the Dane Mikkel Honoré (Quick-Step Alpha-Vinyl) also left, before being taken back at 22.5 kilometers, after ten kilometers alone in the lead. At the end of this stage, it was the Ineos Grenadiers team, led by the Polish Michal Kwiatkowski, who took their responsibilities, at the head of the peloton, assisted, at the very end of the race, by Trek-Segafredo, Jumbo-Visma then Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. A hardening which led to a break within the peloton, before everything then returned to normal.
As for the group of sprinters, with Dylan Groenewegen in particular, if they got closer to around thirty seconds, they were therefore never able to come back. If Rémi Cavagna attempted an attack, 1.7 kilometers from the line, the French champion was finally taken over under the red flame by Christophe Laporte, who sacrificed himself for his teammate. Wout van Aert was then able to raise his arms, for his fourth success, in his career, on this event. From this Monday, the peloton will meet for the second stage, 169.8 kilometers long and run between Saint-Péray and Brives-Charensac.
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