Etixx – Quick-Step riders safely conclude sprinters’ day at the Dauphiné
Stage 1 of the French race took the peloton between Cluses and Saint-Vulbas, over a distance of 186 kilometers.
Despite some fourth-category climbs in the first half of the course, Monday's stage has sprint finish written all over it. After the bunch rolled over the start line and left the neutral zone behind, Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) attacked and opened a gap of 20 seconds, before being joined by Mitchell Docker (Orica-GreenEdge). Together, they established a maximum lead of 5:30, but the advantage began to drop once the teams of the fast men came to the forefront and began setting a pace which stretched the pack.
For Etixx – Quick-Step is was an easy day, in which the team worked to protect white jersey Julian Alaphilippe and Dan Martin, who were both sitting in the top 5 overall following their solid ride in the Les Gets prologue. Julian and Dan concluded the stage safely in the pack, while in the sprint Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) got the better of his rivals, taking the win ahead of Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18).
Stage 3 of the Criterium du Dauphiné will see the peloton go to 1114 meters above sea level for an uphill arrival at Chalmazal-Jeansagnière, which is going to host a finish in the race for the first time. The last ascent is preceded by a second-category climb (Côte de Saint-Georges-en-Couzan) and averages 3.7% over 6.8 kilometers, the toughest section coming just before the final kilometer.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele