In a hectic finale following a 170km long five-man breakaway, Slovenia’s Grega Bole of Lampre outsprinted Slovakia’s Peter Velits in Saint-Laurent-du-Pont while Alberto Contador stayed in the lead.
Kadri launches the five-man breakaway
The start was given in Evian-les-Bains to 175 riders. Following an unsuccessful attack at km 5 by his Ag2r-La Mondiale team-mate Guillaume Bonnafond who was rejoined by Nicolas Vogondy (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and by the bunch two kilometres later, Blel Kadri initiated a five-man breakaway after 14 kilometres of racing. Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) was prompt to jump on his wheel. Mathieu Ladagnous (Française des Jeux), Sébastien Minard (Cofidis) and Dominique Rollin (Cervélo) bridged the gap to form a significant group in the lead at km 16. Their advantage went beyond 5 minutes after 25 km. It was 7.20 at km 32 and 9.10 at km 50. It reached a maximum of 9.50 at km 56.
Garmin-Transitions in action after 100km
Since Astana didn’t want to defend Alberto Contador’s yellow jersey, Saxo Bank, Sky and Liquigas entered in action to reduce the gap and keep the possibility of a bunch sprint. Jean-Christophe Péraud (Omega Pharma-Lotto) crashed at km 84 and sustained spectacular bruises once he made it back to the bunch. The gap went up and down. Saxo Bank took it down to 6.55 at the top of the côte de Chilly (km 89.5) where Matthieu Ladagnous passed in first position with the polka dot jersey in mind. When Saxo Bank stopped chasing, the gap went up again. It was 9 minutes at km 107 when Garmin-Transitions decided to take the responsibility of bringing the breakaway back.
Brajkovic tried his luck
With 50km to go, it became 5 minutes. Once the breakaway riders could admire the beautiful lake of Aiguebelette with 30km to go, their advantage went under three minutes. Ladagnous, Rollin, Kadri, Gautier and Minard understood they had few chances to succeed in Saint-Laurent-du-Pont. But they kept fighting courageously. Their breakaway eventually lasted 170 kilometres as Gautier was the last man to resist but he got caught with 7 km to go. Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step) and Oscar Pujol (Cervélo) accelerated in the climb of Miribel-Les Echelles but they got overtaken in the downhill by Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack) who threatened Contador’s yellow jersey after finishing third in the prologue. But another Slovenian took the honours: once Brajkovic and Eros Capecchi (Footon-Servetto) got caught in the last kilometre. Team Sky pulled the sprint for Geraint Thomas but the British rider was passed before the line by Grega Bole (Lampre) and Peter Velits (HTC-Columbia) who finished in that order.
Alberto Contador keeps the yellow jersey, Geraint Thomas takes the green and Matthieu Ladagnous is the new king of the mountains.
I’m so happy, this is my first big win. The Dauphiné is such a high levelled race. I had a lot of second places before. One of them came at Paris-Nice but a crash the following day left me with broken ribs and I was out of the bike for two months. Today I rejoined the front group at the entrance of the last kilometre. I was behind because of the crash of a Cofidis rider (Samuel Dumoulin) in the downhill. Two riders from Sky have opened the sprint. I managed to get out with 200 metres to go. Now I’m ready to start my first Tour de France.
Top 5 of stage 1:
1. Grega Bole (Lampre)
2. Peter Velits (HTC-Columbia)
3. Geraint Thomas (Sky)
4. Steve Chainel (Bbox)
5. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r)
Lampre rider Grega Bole wins stage 1 in a sprint finish.
Eros Capecchi rejoins Brajkovic in the lead under the red flag of the last kilometre.
Janez Brajkovic who came third in the prologue accelerates downhill and goes away solo with 3km to go.
At the top of the climb at km 185:
1. Seeldrayers (Quick Step), 4 points
2. Pujol (Cervélo), 3 points
3. Verdugo (Euskaltel), 2 points
4. Vandenbroeck (Omega), 1 point