Thomas De Gendt won the opening stage of the 2017 Criterium du Dauphine. The Lotto Soudal rider dropped Axel Domont (AG2R) on the final climb and took the first yellow jersey.
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.
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.
“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”, said De Gendt.
“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.”
— Critérium Dauphiné (@dauphine) 4 iunie 2017
Critérium du Dauphiné 2017 – stage 1 results (Saint-Étienne – Saint-Étienne):
|1||Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal)|
|2||Axel Domont (AG2R)|
|3||Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)|
|4||Pierre Latour (AG2R)|
|5||Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|6||Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida)|
|7||Julien Simon (Cofidis)|
|8||Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)|
|9||Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates)|
|10||Michael Valgren (Astana)|