While the Giro d’Italia came to an end on Sunday, the Critérium du Dauphiné started around Issoire, in the Puy-de-Dôme. The opening stage featured a hilly profile, but it was still not hard enough for the GC contenders to start fighting. Eventually, Brent Van Moer got the win from the breakaway, as Groupama-FDJ’s leader David Gaudu finished in the main peloton twenty-five seconds later.

A well-known event to get ready ahead of the Tour de France, the Critérium du Dauphiné started on Sunday with quite a dynamic stage in the area of Issoire. A bit more than 180 kilometers were on the day’s menu, but there mainly were seven categorized climbs, including the “côte du Château de Buron- col de la Croix des Gardes” sequence to be repeated three times. As the last climb of the course was located ten kilometers from the line, the scenario could seem uncertain and four men took advantage of it to go up front quite early on: Patrick Gamper (Bora-hansgrohe), Brent Van Moer (Lotto-Soudal), Ian Garrison (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels). This early move paid off for one of them. Two teams of sprinters tried to control all day hoping to bring a reduced sprint at the finish, but Brent Van Moer managed to stay away from the bunch after dropping his last breakaway’s companions in the final climbs. “We knew that the breakaway could make it and that’s what happened for the young Belgian, who did a fine performance”, said Thierry Bricaud. “Back in the peloton, we remained focused in order to avoid any accident and not lose time. That’s what we managed to do, and that was the most important thing today.”

“We needed to avoid being caught up stupidly”, Thierry Bricaud

Within the bunch, the pace certainly picked up in the final, but the favourites remained quiet alongside their teammates. As for the Groupama-FDJ, David Gaudu was constantly kept at the front, and was actually there when his mate from Brittany Valentin Madouas attacked about fifteen kilometers from the finish. “We told the guys, and especially Val, to be careful in this last time up the climb, because we knew there could be some action,” added Thierry. “Valentin wanted to test himself a bit and noticed that he had pretty good legs. However, he couldn’t make it on his own. More than anything, it’s encouraging for the future, and it gives him confidence”. The young man then got back in a small peloton, and stayed there alongside Bruno Armirail and his leader David Gaudu to complete the stage twenty seconds behind the day’s winner. “We weren’t expecting anything special from this day,” added Thierry Bricaud. “We just needed to avoid being caught up stupidly, get the engine going and get the habits back. Now the Dauphiné is on!”.

A first selection was made on Saturday as only eighty riders finished within the same time. The selection should further continue tomorrow with the finish in Saugues, which will come after two climbs in the final: the côte de la forêt de Pourcheresse (7km at 6.5%) and the côte de Masset (1.3 km at 4.5%). At the top of the latter, there will only be four kilometers left to reach the line. This will be a first small test for David Gaudu and his colleagues.

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