The first of the three mountain stages set to conclude the Criterium du Dauphiné has seen the formidable solo victory of Christophe Kern (Europcar) who claimed at the age of 30 the most glorious success of his nine-year long pro career. None of the last minute attackers managed to catch the Frenchman. Bradley Wiggins wasn’t in trouble in the climb to Les Gets and increased his confidence before the remaining two Alpine stages. All his adversaries stay in contention at the exception of Nicolas Roche (Ag2r-La Mondiale) who badly crashes with 20km to go.
Climbs of the day:
- Km 45.5: côte de Corlier, cat. 2 (6.4km at 5.3%)
- Km 109: côte du Mont-des-Princes, cat. 2 (5.5km at 7%)
- Km 210: montée des Gets, cat. 2 (10.7km at 4.8%)
Start proper given at 11.30 to 170 riders. 2 non starters: Brice Feillu (Leopard-Trek) and Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
The first two hours at high speed
The first three attackers, Gatis Smukulis (HTC-Highroad), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Joost Posthuma (Leopard-Trek), experienced what was going to happen to any rider going on the offensive for the first two hours: they got caught quickly by the bunch riding very fast. The first two hours were covered at an impressive average speed of 48.1km/h!
McCartney: 105km of solo breakaway
Frenchmen Thibaut Pinot (FDJ, four times), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Rémy Di Gregorio (Astana) tried their luck successively but nobody got the freedom to break away until Jason McCartney (RadioShack) spotted the feed zone located at km 99. The American attacked at km 96. As he suspected, the peloton finally slowed down and let him go as he was 23.13 down on GC. He got a maximum lead of 12.30 at km 135 where the Katusha team decided to change the scenario of the race.
Tony Martin launched the fight
The Russian squad put five men at the command of the peloton to ride behind McCartney. They hesitated for a while but Garmin-Cervélo and later Europcar took the responsibility of the chase. The American veteran got caught with 9km to go by a trio formed of Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad), Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Maciej Paterski (Liquigas).With 7km to go, Oliver Zaugg (Leopard-Trek) went away solo in the final climb to Les Gets.
Christophe Kern’s 3km effort for glory
Zaugg’s adventure ended with 3km to go and another race started. Christophe Kern (Europcar) took over in the lead after attacking from the group with his team-mate Pierre Rolland, Martin, Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank) and David Lopez (Movistar). Attacks from the bunch by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervélo) and Chris Anker Sørensen (Saxo Bank-SunGard) successively weren’t productive enough and the Frenchman delivered a solo victory, while race leader Bradley Wiggins came home safely in sixth position with no threat to his yellow-blue jersey.
“I attacked with three kilometres to go, knowing that even if I was going to get caught, Thomas [Voeckler] was one of the fastest sprinters for the stage win. I wanted to go as far as I could. It’s super to win here today because the Dauphiné is a big race and this is a mountain stage. I got close two years ago at the Tour de France in Arcalis. I tried again on stage 1 here on Monday but I got caught with 800 metres to go. [Europcar team manager] Jean-René [Bernaudeau] encouraged me loudly. I’m very happy for the whole Europcar team. We’ve done a great job today. The atmosphere in the team is fantastic. I had a knee injury at the beginning of the year and I came back nicely to my best level. Three weeks before the Tour de France, this is my best win ever so far.”
"The beginning of the stage was very difficult. I didn’t manage to break away. However I took some points thanks to the help of David Moncoutié who opened the sprints uphill for me. Today’s stage didn’t look hard but the rhythm has made me tired. I’ll have to anticipate the big climbs to get some more points for the polka dot jersey because the last two stage finishes will be too hard for me.”
“It was a fast start. My team was amazing to keep all the attacks under control. Edvald [Boasson Hagen] and G [Thomas] did a fantastic job. Even in the last climb, they stayed cool. I knew that some guys would try to go for the stage win. Some of my adversaries for GC, Vinokourov and Van den Broeck tried to drop me off but Cadel [Evans] didn’t. Rodriguez attacked a few times but that was for the stage more than for the time. I was never worried. This was the first of three tough days. It won’t be complicated tomorrow and on Sunday: I’ll just race flat out to defend the yellow jersey.”
Bradley Wiggins, 6th, ahead of young French climber Thibaut Pinot, keeps the yellow-blue jersey.
1. Christophe Kern
2. Chris Anker Sorensen
3. Thomas Voeckler
4. Joaquim Rodriguez
5. Alexandre Vinokourov
Kern is the winner.
Kern is close to winning.
Sorensen chases Kern at 1km to go.