By reaching Savoie on Friday, the Critérium du Dauphiné riders entered the middle mountains, which made for good preparation before the tough weekend. At the Crest-Voland station, Georg Zimmermann took victory from the breakaway. Lenny Martinez joined the line a minute or so behind the winner, meaning a dozen seconds behind the main GC group. David Gaudu lost eleven seconds more than his young mate on Friday. The two French climbers will now seek opportunities on the alpine climbs on Saturday and Sunday.

There was action right from the start this Friday on the Critérium du Dauphiné. Leaving Nantua, many showed their will to enter the day’s breakaway. A first fight of about forty minutes therefore led to a first break of 18 riders, which included Olivier Le Gac. The rider from Brittany and the other fugitives started to open a real gap, but the peloton eventually decided to chase them down, bringing everything back together after fifty kilometres of racing. Another race resumed from then on, but the right breakaway was fast to establish itself. After the summit of the day’s first climb, fourteen men hit the front, but without a rider from Groupama-FDJ this time. The leading group included among others Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Lawson Craddock (Jayco-AlUla), Andrea Bagioli (Soudal-Quick Step), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) or Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), and brought his advantage above three-minute mark before the peloton started to chase.

In the second half of the race, the gap decreased slightly, but it was still around two minutes when tackling the Col des Aravis (7.7 km at 5.9%), penultimate climb of the day. In the lead, three men took advantage of it to drop the others, while a first selection was made in the bunch. At the end of a fast downhill, the riders quickly came at the bottom of the explosive, irregular climb leading to Crest-Voland. Zimmermann beat his remaining rivals to claim victory up front while the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard tested his opponents in the back. About fifteen men eventually finished in the “peloton”, and Lenny Martinez arrived just 14 seconds later. As for David Gaudu, he lost twenty-five seconds to the GC riders following this intense finish. On Friday evening, the French leader remains 25th overall while his young teammate gained a position (29th, editor’s note). On Saturday, the bunch will tackle the first big piece of the weekend including the Col de la Madeleine, the Col du Mollard but most especially the summit finish at the Col de la Croix de Fer, more than 2000 metres above sea level.

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