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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, June 5, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Old people love to give good advice; it compensates them for their inability to set a bad example. - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

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Critérium du Dauphiné team reports

We'll start with stage one winner Thomas de Gendt's Lotto-Soudal news:

Thomas De Gendt has added another memorable victory to his palmares. The Lotto Soudal rider arrived solo in Saint-Étienne, where the first stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné finished. A successful end of an early breakaway. Thanks to his stage win De Gendt leads the overall classification. Tomorrow, he will be racing in the yellow jersey. During the stage he had already secured the KOM jersey. And the Belgian is also first in the points classification.

Immediately after the start of this 170.5 kilometres long stage with start and finish in Saint-Étienne, the road ran uphill towards the first of eight official climbs. Thomas De Gendt had set his mind on the KOM jersey. He formed a break with the following six riders: Axel Domont, Delio Fernandez, Silvio Herklotz, Angel Madrazo, Antonio Nibali and Romain Sicard. A strong De Gendt was always the first to reach the top of the climbs. Mission accomplished.

But it wasn’t over yet. The front group had a maximal lead of six and a half minutes. With 25 kilometres to go three minutes advantage were still left. The peloton wouldn’t close the gap anymore. In the finale the riders had to cover three laps of fifteen kilometres, containing a third category climb. De Gendt raised the pace in the second lap and he remained only in front with Axel Domont. In the last lap De Gendt also got rid of his last opponent and soloed to victory.

De Gendt leads the GC with an advantage of 48 seconds on Axel Domont and 1’03” on Diego Ulissi.

Thomas de Gendt

Thomas de Gendt winning the Dauphiné's first stage

Thomas De Gendt: “Before the start of this Dauphiné I had marked a few stages to battle for the KOM jersey. It was my goal to conquer it today and to wear the polka dot jersey the next days, but it will be a different shirt.”

“Quite soon I noticed that I was the strongest man in the front group. Of course you need to make sure to eat sufficiently and to save as much energy as possible. To catch the KOM points I needed to go full gas each time, but at the end of the stage I still had enough power in my legs to attack.”

“When we had four minutes advantage left at the start of the local laps I understood that we had a huge chance of winning the stage. From then on I fully focussed on that goal. At one and a half kilometres from the last top, I dropped Domont. I knew that if I had about fifteen seconds lead at the top, I would win the stage. Then I tried to gain as much seconds on GC as possible. In 2011 I wore the yellow jersey three days at Paris-Nice. That was a wonderful experience. I am very much looking forward to the next days.”

“I must be able to keep the jersey till the time trial. I am now 1’09” ahead of the GC riders. When Froome is in shape, he can definitely ride one minute faster than me on such a time trial course, so we’ll see if I can keep the jersey on Wednesday. Maybe by a few seconds. The stage over Mont du Chat on Friday will be too hard for me. Then I can collect more KOM points though. I now have sixteen and next weekend there are a lot more to conquer.”

The first Hammer Series were concluded today with a team pursuit in Sittard to determine the overall winner. After three laps of 14.9 kilometres Team Sky beat Team Sunweb by only one second. Lotto Soudal finished fourth overall in the same time as Orica – Scott, 36 seconds down on Sky.

Jens Debusschere: “At the beginning of the Hammer Series we had said that we wanted to be one of the eight teams to battle for the overall victory on the last day and we achieved that. Today our goal was to finish on top five. Pretty soon we noticed that teams got together behind us. That makes it not easy to gain time on them. On such narrow roads it wasn’t possible for the jury to make the teams race next to each other. That’s something to work on for the next editions. Orica – Scott was just ahead of us, but we set a pleasing result.”

“In general, the Hammer Series was a very positive experience. The concept of three kind of races in a three-day event is appealing. The organisation here in the Netherlands was excellent. This was definitely a good start of the Hammer Series. I’d like to participate in Norway next year as well.”

Team Movistar posted this short Dauphiné report:

Thomas De Gendt (LTS) took advantage from a rolling, twisty course and lack of real cooperation between the main teams to take a breakaway to fruition on the opening stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, 170km around Saint-Étienne that included eight rated ascents.

The Belgian tore apart the rest of the lead group at the final two ascents of the Cat-3 Côte de Rochetaillée, and reached the finish line with a 59” gap over a bunch slightly anticipated by Ulissi (UAD), Latour (ALM) and Buchmann (BOH), who jumped at the summit of the last climb. Alejandro Valverde took 8th, third within the bunch, was 8th in his return to racing, six weeks after a glorious end to his early season in Liège.

The Spanish superstar and his team-mates will have to get through two fast-paced, possible windy stages, suited for sprinters, on Monday and Tuesday before Wednesday’s crucial, 23.5km ITT in Bourgoin-Jallieu.

Here's what Chris Froome's Team Sky had to say about the stage:

Chris Froome got his Criterium du Dauphine campaign under way with an assured ride on a tricky stage one circuit in Saint-Etienne. The three-time race winner was alert as the peloton split apart on the final lap, crossing the line 15th amid a heavily reduced peloton.

Team Sky kept their powder dry for much of the 170.5km test, after helping to set an early tempo to keep tabs on a seven-man breakaway. That move would eventually produce the day’s winner, with Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) building up an unassailable lead to take the stage and the race lead by 44 seconds.

The Belgian pushed clear of Axel Domont (Ag2r-La Mondiale) on the final ascent of the Cote de Rochetaillee, en route to a strong solo victory.

Pete Kennaugh, Michal Kwiatkowski and Ian Boswell all finished inside a peloton of less than 50 riders.

Team Sky

Team Sky before the stage start

"It was a good stage and good for us to get that one out of the way without any major issues," Froome explained after the race. It’s my first day of racing since Romandie. Today was a good day to blow out the cobwebs and it was pretty grippy in the final there.

"Thomas De Gendt did well today and he’ll definitely hold onto the jersey for a few days. He’s obviously going well, but once we hit the big climbs I expect he’ll give up the jersey at one point.

"We did quite a bit of work early on, just to not let the break go too far, but it seemed like not many other people wanted to contribute until it was too late. For us it’s just about staying out of trouble, staying out of the wind and saving it for when it really matters."

And here's what Alberto Contador's Trek-Segafredo squad reported:

The 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné kicked off Sunday with a demanding 170-kilometer stage that saw a breakaway triumph and a decimated peloton with all the general classification contenders arrive almost a minute behind.

Alberto Contador finished safely with teammates Andre Cardoso and Haimar Zubeldia amid a peloton that numbered less than 50 after the hills took a serious toll on the opening day. It was a harsh return to racing for Contador who has not seen action since Vuelta al Pais Vasco in early April.

"It was a hard stage today, especially after a long time without competition," said Contador who recently completed an altitude training camp in Tenerife. "I took some holidays after Pays Basque to disconnect a little, and then came back little by little. My biggest block of training came in Teide for more or less three weeks and then I am here at the Dauphine to continue.

"I did not work too much on intensity so that I am still fresh. This is the biggest difference from other years: I did less training behind the moto and less series of intensity. I did the training thinking about July. I will use this race as preparation for the Tour de France and my ambition is to finish this race with good condition."

While the GC rivals had to be sharp on a day that could wreak havoc, breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) capitalized on a rare first-day breakaway that succeeded to the finish. De Gendt jumped away on the final uphill and soloed to a hard-earned win and the first leader's jersey of the World Tour race in France, always a key build-up event for the Tour de France in less than a month's time.

"I am happy because I felt very good," added Contador. "I think my feeling was better than I hoped. I made some good watts in some parts of the stage, I made it through with no crashes, no problems, and it was a nice day of work for the legs."

He can check off a good day's work - and one day closer to the big goal in July.

And here's the update UAE Team Emirates sent me:

Diego Ulissi ranked third in the first stage of the “Criterium du Dauphiné” with an attack in the last climb of the day, showing a great condition despite he spent a long training camp in altitude with the team.

“My performance was a great surprise for me too because we did and intensive altitude training camp period” said a satisfied Diego Ulissi “it means we worked really well without losing rhythm. It’s a pity for the victory but we’ll have others opportunities. The most important thing is to feel good”.

The Belgian Thomas de Gendt won alone after dropping all the seven-rider breakaway who was part, last of them during the final climb outside Saint-Etienne. Second place for the French Alex Domont (AG2R). Third Ulissi who outsprinted the two attack’s companions. Ninth place for Ben Swift.

Tomorrow the peloton will ride the stage 2 from Saint-Chamond to Arlanc of 171 km with 4 climbs: 1 of second, 2 of third and 1, the last one, of fourth category with 70 km to go.

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