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Critérium du Dauphiné stage 1: Van Den Broeck underlines credentials with debut win

Stage 1: Albertville to Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, 144km

Jurgen Van Den Broeck claimed stage one of the Critérium du Dauphiné after launching a well-timed solo attack less than four kilometres from the finish. The Belgian Omega Pharma-Lotto rider was fourth in last year’s race and went on to place a strong fifth at the Tour de France, and here he showed the kind of form with which he hopes to improve this year as he took his first career win as a pro.

Starting in Albertville, host town of the 1992 Winter Olympics, and finishing in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, home of the liqueur of the same name, the Dauphiné’s first road stage was an undulating affair featuring three early categorised hills before the final 7.4km climb to the finish.

The defining break of the day formed after 22km as three riders – Sven Vandousselaere (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) and Vincent Jérôme (Europcar) – broke free. They established an advantage of 5:35 at one stage over the peloton led by the Rabobank team of yellow jersey Lars Boom, with Duque collecting maximum points over the first three climbs of the day.

The peloton enjoys good weather and scenery on stage one (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

However, the breakaway’s lead was down to one minute with 20km to go, and with HTC-HighroadAstana and BMC coming forward to add numbers to the chase, the catch was inevitable and completed with 10km to go as the race entered the foothills approaching the climactic Chartreuse climb.

The first major attack came as HTC’s Kanstantsin Sivtsov, tenth at the Giro d’Italia, went clear at the start of the climb. Van Den Broeck followed, with Europcar‘s Thomas Voeckler soon joining up with them. The trio eked out a few seconds’ lead, and as the peloton accelerated behind them it was enough to stretch everyone out and shell some big names out of the back. If Boom’s demise came as little surprise, to see Liquigas captain Ivan Basso among the earliest casualties was a shock, and Sivtsov’s teammate Tony Martin soon dropped away too, although whether this was due to poor climbing legs or a desire to save energy for Wednesday’s time trial remains to be seen.

Van Den Broeck timed his attack to perfection

The pursuing group’s persistence finally told as Sivtsov faded backwards, but with 4km remaining Voeckler attacked again and Van Den Broeck patiently reeled him back in. The Belgian caught the French national champion and smoothly kicked on, easily pulling out 15 seconds on his pursuers and time-trialling his way to the finish.

Behind him, the favourites’ group continued to dwindle in number, with big name climbers such as Robert Gesink and Samuel Sánchez finding the going too tough for them. Finally, an attack by Katusha’s punchy climber Joaquim Rodríguez (who was fifth at the Giro) shattered the group in the final kilometre. The Spaniard streaked away from the pack but was unable to seriously threaten Van Den Broeck and finished six seconds behind, with Cadel Evans (BMC) easily winning the sprint for third ahead of Astana’s Alexandre VinokourovAG2R‘s Nicolas Roche and Sky‘s Edvald Boasson Hagen. Voeckler, Bradley Wiggins and 2010 winner Janez Brajkovič were a few seconds further back.

Overall, Van Den Broeck moved up to second behind new yellow jersey Vinokourov, with Evans, Wiggins and Boasson Hagen all within 13 seconds of the leader.

The stage winner was delighted with the form which delivered him his first professional stage win:

It’s good for my morale to win today. I’ve had a hard spell of training but the legs felt okay and I thought it was worth attacking. I saw [Sivtsov] go first so followed him and then when it all came back together my teammate Jürgen Roelandts shouted out “go for it” and it was all or nothing from then onwards.

New overall leader and 1999 winner Vinokourov was also pleased with his condition, having not raced for over a month:

A first stage is always difficult, and especially when like today there is an uphill finish at the top of a difficult climb. There was already a lot of damage done and I’m glad I found my rhythm pretty quickly.

I had not raced since the Tour de Romandie and there was a risk of not being in shape. When Rodríguez attacked, I was afraid of making the effort too, so I wanted to keep a good tempo. I did well because I came back up to him fast enough. I knew there was the opportunity to take the yellow jersey.

It’s a great story for me, twelve years after my victory in the Dauphiné in 1999. This time I’ve come here for the last season of my career, this yellow jersey pleases me a lot. I hope it’s a good sign before the Tour de France, which is my main goal of the season.

Stage two from Voiron to Lyon is a relatively leisurely 179km with a sting in the tail in the form of an uphill finish. The day’s route takes in four fourth-category climbs, the last the 1.4km Côte de la Croix-Rousse, which averages 4.8%.

Stage 2 profile

Stage 1 result:

1. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 3:36:42

2. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) +0:06

3. Cadel Evans (BMC) +0:07

4. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) same time

5. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) s/t

General classification:

1. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) 3:43:09

2. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) +0:05

3. Cadel Evans (BMC) +0:07

4. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) +0:11

5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) +0:13

6. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:17

7. Janez Brajkovič (RadioShack) +0:20

8. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) +0:23

9. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +0:24

10. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) +0:27

Points classification:

1. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) 30 pts

2. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 25

3. Cadel Evans (BMC) 24

4. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) 22

5.  Bradley Wiggins (Sky) 20

Mountains classification:

1. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 10 pts

2. Leonardo Duque (Cofidid Le Credit En Ligne) 10

3. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) 9

4. Cadel Evans (BMC) 8

5. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) 7

Links: Critérium du Dauphiné official websiteSteephill.tv

Critérium du Dauphiné recaps

Prologue: Boom blasts his way into the lead


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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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