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Canadian emerges as the strongest from a 4-rider breakaway and holds off the star-studded peloton to take the stage win and leader's jersey in solo fashion

Photo: Feltet.dk

CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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DAVID VEILLEUX

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02.06.2013 @ 15:19 Posted by Simon Knudstrup

David Veilleux (Europcar) became a surprise winner of the first stage at the big Criterium du Dauphiné stage race in the Alps when he managed to hold off a star-studded field on his own. Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) sprinted convincingly to second almost 2 minutes behind while Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco) had to settle for third.

 

In the beginning of March, Damien Gaudin took a hugely surprising win and first leader's jersey in the prologue in the first big stage race organized by ASO, the Paris-Nice. Today the Europcar team repeated that performance in the second of the big ASO stage races as David Veilleux took a equally surprising stage win and first leader's jersey in the Criterium du Dauphiné.

 

The 25-year old joined an early 4-rider breakaway on a day which most expected to be firmly controlled by the Sky team, and few saw an chance for a successful breakaway. However, the Canadian expectations by dropping his companions on the day's penultimate climb, the category 1 Col de Corbier, and soloing home to a big win.

 

The remainders of the escape were all picked up by the peloton from which Gianni Meersman emerged as the fastest as he sprinted to a hugely convincing win in the battle for 2nd. He shook his head in frustration, knowing that the stage had been a perfect opportunity for him to take his fifth stage win in a WorldTour race this season. Tom Jelte-Slagter (Blanco) held off the Sky GC riders Richie Porte and Chris Froome to finish 3rd and take the lead in the white jersey competition - the only competition not to be led by today's stage winner.

 

The day had mostly been an easy one for the GC riders who nonetheless got a scare when world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) attacked on his own and at one point was more than 3 minutes ahead of the main group. The big favourites were reluctant to give the German powerhouse an early lead, knowing that the winner of the recent Tour of Belgium is going strong at the moment, and so Saxo-Tinkoff, Katusha and Movistar did a huge work to chase the German down.

 

Most of the favourites finished safely in the bunch but one rider showed some surprising signs of weakness. Andrew Talansky (Garmin) was touted as an outsider for the race win but the American was dropped on the day's penultimate climb. At the time of writing, it is unclear whether he managed to catch back on but the struggles indicate that the American is not riding as strongly as expected.

 

Veilleux will now take a 1.56 lead over Meersman into the race's second stage, a lumpy, classics-like stage from Chatel to Oyonnaux. The final part is all up or down and so it will be a difficult one for Europcar to control. However, the French team could get some help from some of the sprinters' teams in the final part of the race as riders like Meersman and Boasson Hagen could fancy their chances in a sprint from a reduced bunch. S

 

Starting at 13.00, you can follow the action on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

 

4 riders on the attack

The short 121km starting and finishing in Champery had replaced the traditional prologue as the opener of the Alpine Criterium du Dauphiné. With two category 1 climbs on the menu and a final category 3 ascent located only 1,5km from the finish, the stage was certainly a hard way to kick off the mountainous race but never expected to be one for the GC riders to shine.

 

Early one Veilleux attacked and he was joined by Thomas Damuseau (Argos-Shimano) - fresh off from having finished his first ever grand tour at the Giro - and Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne). Ricardo Garcia (Euskaltel) also managed to gain contact as the break started to build up and advantages on the day's first climb, the category 1 Cote de Morgins.

 

Martins tries his hand

With the break more than 8 minutes ahead of a peloton steadily led by Team Sky, Martin decided that it was time to try his hand. The German went off on his own and for most of the day was in no-man's land in between the lead group and the peloton.

 

Vacansoleil has brought their A team to the French stage race and were reluctant to give Martin too much of an advantage and so the Dutch team asked Sergey Lagutin to up the pace. Orica-GreenEdge - eager to win the stage with Simon Gerrans - put Travis Meyer on the front, Sky - with Boasson Hagen as a stage winner opportunity and Chris Froome as the big favourite for the overall - contributed through the work of Ian Stannard and Movistar - with an ambitious Alejandro Valverde - decided to use the power of Eloy Teruel in the chase.

 

The sprinters drop off

The quartet worked hard and quickly managed to bring the once 10 minute gap down to around 6 minutes when they hit the bottom of the category 1 Col de Corbier. Lagutin stopped chasing but Teruel, Stannard and Meyer set such a hard tempo that numerous sprinters started to drop off with Thor Hushovd (BMC), Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), Koldo Fernandez (Garmin) and Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil) being some of those to lose contact.

 

Stannard used up his last energy while Teruel and Meyer continued their effort. Behind, the Vacansoleil captain Thomas De Gendt became a surprise victim and the Belgian who was 3rd overall in last year's Giro had to let his GC ambitions go for now.

 

Veilleux goes off on his own

A few kilometres from the top, Veilleux decided it was time to go off on his own and despite Damuseau's best effort to respond to the move, the Canadian soloed off on his own. At the top, he had a solid gap on Damuseau and Garcia while Bideau had been dropped and was soon after picked up by Martin.

 

Veilleux did a fantastic job and despite the huge chase effort by Orica-GreenEdge and Movistar, he managed to keep the gap stable at around 5.30 for a very long time.  With a little more than 30km to go, Katusha decided that Martin was too dangerous for the GC prospects of Joaquin Rodriguez and so Xavier Florencio and Timofey Kritskiy joined the chase.

 

Saxo-Tinkoff starts to chase

Teruel and Meyer had now finished a hard day of work but Movistar replaced the former by Imanol Erviti. At the same time, Saxo-Tinkoff's Nicki Sørensen also joined the chase to keep the GC options of Alberto Contador open for later in the race.

 

Bideau was dropped by Martin and with 29km to go, the Frenchman was back in the fold. Soon after Veilleux started to climb the day's penultimate ascent, the category 2 Pas de Morgins and still enjoyed a healthy lead of more than 4 minutes.

 

Martin is caught

The peloton decided to chase hard on the climb to finally bring back Martin, and Erviti, Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Timofey Kritskiy did a huge effort. At the top of the climb with 19km to go, it was all over for the world time trial champion who was brought back into the main group.

 

Veilleux was now only 2.45 ahead but with Martin safely back in the fold, Movistar and Saxo-Tinkoff both stopped chasing. NetApp-Endura and Katusha did a little work but were in no hurry and so Veilleux built his gap back up to 3.45 at the bottom of the final category 3 climb with 7km to go.

 

Sky ups the pace

At the bottom, Sky hit the front with Peter Kennaugh and the British team set a hard tempo all the way up the ascent to discourage any attacks. The cap to Veilleux started once again to come down but no one was able to catch the lone Canadian who took a huge win in Champery.

 

Damuseau and Garcia fought hard to stay clear but with 2km to go the chasers were brought back into the fold. That was the signal for Ivan Santaromita (BMC) to try his hand. The Italian dangled off the front for a short while but with 500m to go, he was brought back by Sky.

 

Instead, Meersman burst clear to open up daylight between himself and third-placed Slagter while GC contenders Porte and Froome followed just behind in 4th and 5th.

 

Result:

1. David Veilleux 3.17.35

2. Gianni Meersman +1.56

3. Tom-Jelte Slagter +1.57

4. Richie Porte

5. Chris Froome

6. Angel Madrazo

7. Jakob Fuglsang

8. Alejandro Valverde

9. Tony Gallopin

10. Leopold König

 

General classification:

1. David Veilleux 3.17.35

2. Gianni Meersman +1.56

3. Tom-Jelte Slagter +1.57

4. Richie Porte

5. Chris Froome

6. Angel Madrazo

7. Jakob Fuglsang

8. Alejandro Valverde

9. Tony Gallopin

10. Leopold König

 

Points classification:

1. David Veilleux 20

2. Gianni Meersman 12

3. Tom-Jelte Slagter 10

4. Richie Porte 8

5. Chris Froome 6

 

Mountains classification:

1. David Veilleux 40

2. Thomas Damuseau 35

3. Ricardo Garcia 28

4. Jean-Marc Bideau 24

5. Tony Martin 15

 

Young riders' classification:

1. Tom-Jelte Slagter 3.19.32

2. Angel Madrazo

3. Tony Gallopin

4. Arthur Vichot

5. Warren Barguil

 

Teams classification:

1. Team Europcar 9.56.39

2. Omega Pharma-Quick Step +1.56

3. Sky +1.57

4. Movistar

5. Blanco

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