Criterium du Dauphine #1: Tricky final ends in group sprint

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Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) won the 1st stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, sprinting to victory in Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert. Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep-Floors) placed 2nd and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) rounded out the stage podium.

Although stage 1 of the Criterium du Dauphine was considered one of the “easier” stages of the race, it was a difficult day out on the bike. The terrain was constantly undulating with 7 categorised climbs over the 179km course. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were looking to Edvald Boasson Hagen for today’s stage, as the nature of the course suited our Norwegian’s abilities.

An early break of 3 riders was caught with around 11km to go, as the peloton approached the stage finale. Wet and winding roads made the run-in quite tricky and there were two late crashes that created a few splits in the bunch. Fortunately, none of our African Team riders went down in any of the crashes.

The front group was reduced to 70-odd riders after the final climb at 4km to go, and we still had Boasson Hagen, Serge Pauwels, Steve Cummings and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier in the mix. As the race descended toward the final kilometer, there was no real organisation at the the head of the main pack. Boasson Hagen found himself in around 20th position but it was still too far back for when the sprint started. Impey launched from the head of the race with 200m to go and could not be matched, taking an impressive stage win.

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) retained the overall race lead ahead of tomorrow’s 2nd stage, which again includes a large amount of climbing with 4 category 3 and a category 4 climb during the 180km route.