Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) won stage 2 of the Criterium du Dauphine with our own, Edvald Boasson Hagen placing 2nd for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) collected 3rd place and with it, the overall race lead too.
Stage 2 of the Criterium du Dauphine took riders from Montbrison to Belleville, covering a distance of 180km. There were 4 notable climbs near the back end of the stage today, but with the final climb peaking with still 30km left to race, another group sprint was expected. Our African Team was dealt an early blow today though as Nic Dlamini did not start the stage as a precautionary measure, due to our medical team sighting fatigue and signs of illness.
4 riders animated the early part of the stage, going onto the attack. They were able to build a lead of just over 6-minutes before the likes of Team Sky, Bahrain-Merida and Lotto-Soudal began chasing from the peloton. As the race hit the climbs, the gap dropped rather quickly and it became clear the expected group sprint was on the cards. This was good news for our African Team as Edvald Boasson Hagen was looking to make up for yesterday’s missed opportunity.
On the final climb of the stage, Lotto-Soudal ramped up the pace which saw at least half the peloton get dropped. Over the top of the climb, Boasson Hagen was still well placed in the main group with our Eritrean neo-pro, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier there to offer support too.
The break splintered as the finish approached, with a lone rider from Astana going alone in the final 10km, but his chances were doomed with a strong Mitchelton-Scott team now leading the chase for Impey. Boasson Hagen was comfortably slotted behind Impey for the run-in to Belleville.
Boasson Hagen jumped out from behind Impey’s wheel with the line in sight but Ackermann’s superior speed saw him come off Boasson Hagen’s wheel with just 100m to go, taking the stage win and relegating our Norwegian to 2nd place. A fine effort though from “Eddy the Boss” as he continues to fine tune his shape ahead of the Tour de France.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider
It was a relatively easy start to the stage today and only when when we reached the climbs did we start to go faster and it became increasingly harder. I was in a good position on the climb and made it over with the first group and then I could also keep a good position all the way down the climb, heading to the sprint. I was in a good position for the sprint but it seemed the pace dropped in front of me just at the wrong moment, so that allowed the guys behind to keep a bit more speed while we had to try accelerate again. I did all I could in the sprint but Ackermann finished faster. I am still happy with today, it showed my shape is coming at the right time and the expectation is only to get faster from here, ahead of the Tour.