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With an impressive burst of speed in the uphill drag to the line, Herrada passed a strong breakaway inside the final 100m to win stage 2 of the Criterium du Dauphiné; Contador suffered in the finale but retained the lead

Photo: Movistar Team

ALBERTO CONTADOR

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CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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JESUS HERRADA

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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SERGE PAUWELS

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TONY GALLOPIN

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07.06.2016 @ 17:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jesus Herrada (Movistar) finally to a long overdue first win on the WorldTour with a hugely impressive performance in the first summit finish on stage 2 of the Criterium du Duaphiné. With a powerful acceleration inside the final 500m, he sprinted past a strong breakaway that looked like they would ride away with the victory, and put two seconds into the group that was led to the finish by Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data). Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) suffered in the finale but retained the lead.

 

For a few years, Jesus Herrada has been regarded as a huge talent in Spain. However, apart from a win at his national championships and two stage wins at the Vuelta a Asturias and the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, he has failed to win the many races that his talent deserves.

 

Known for his versatility, Herrada can both climb, sprint and time trial and this means that he can play a role in a variety of races. This year he has been close on a number of occasions as he was second in a stage of the Vuelta Valenciana, in a stage and the overall at the Tour du Haut-Var and in a stage and the overall at the Vuelta Madrid.

 

Herrada is one of the riders in the running for a spot on the Movistar team for the Tour de France and this week he is using the Criterium du Dauphiné to prove his worth for the team management. With neither Valverde nor Quintana at the start, he even gets a rare chance to lead the team and with a fine 10th place in the prologue, he proved that he is in excellent condition.

 

That automatically turned him into one of the favourites for today’s first uphill finish in the race and Herrada finally took that long overdue first big win. However, while the win was not unexpected, few would have predicted him to be in a class of his own.

 

However, that’s what he was when he launched a powerful attack inside the final 500m of the uphill drag to the line. At that point, it looked like a strong breakaway would narrowly hold off the peloton and it was actually his teammate Daniel Moreno who was leading the race. However, Moreno could only watch when Herrada sprinted past him and put 2 seconds into the group. The attack was a wise one for Herrada as Moreno drifted to fifth, with Tony Gallopin beating Serge Pauwels in the sprint for second.

 

Further back, the peloton caught the break on the line, with Bauke Mollema (Trek) being the first rider home from the group of favourites. Chris Froome (Sky) finished 8th while Alberto Contador clearly drifted backwards in the finale. Initially, a 4-second split was recorded but in the end Froome and Contador were given the same time.

 

The drama had unfolded on the final 21.5km uphill drag that was split into an early category 2 climb and a 6.8km category 3 climb to the finish, with the two climbs being separated by a mostly flat section. A breakaway of Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Jack Bauer (Cannondale) and Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18) hit the climb with an advantage of 2.45 after Etixx-QuickStep had done a big job with Niki Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh and Martin Velits to bring it down.

 

As soon as they hit the climb, the peloton exploded to pieces, with Nacer Bouhanni, Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb, Vandenbergh, Terpstra and Velits among the first riders to sit up as a big gruppetto was formed. Meanwhile, Gougeard split the front group by launching a strong attack that only Huzarski could match.

                                                                                                                                        

Gougeard did most of the work in the front duo but as Tony Martin had taken over the pace-setting for Etixx-QuickStep, he continued to lose ground. With 18km to go, the gap was only 1.45. The gradual elimination continued as riders like Rohan Dennis (BMC), Haimar Zubeldia (Trek) and tHOMAS De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) were some of the big names to lose contact.

 

With 17km to go, Sky played their card as they sent Michal Kwiatkowski off in an attack. Martin just continued to set his steady pace and so the former world champion quickly got a 10-second advantage. First he passed Teklehaimanot and moments later he also left Calmejane and finally Bauer behind.

 

Gougeard launched a strong attack that distanced Huzarski while Martin continued to ride on the front. That was too much for Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) who were among the surprise victims in the peloton.

 

With 15km to go, Gougeard already had a 25-second advantage over Huzarski while Kwiatkowski was at 1.20. Martin could only keep the gap stable at 1.30 until Laurens De Plus took over for the Belgian team.

 

When De Plus swung off, the peloton slowed down and this allowed Fabrice Jeandesboz (Direct Energie) to take off. Using teammate Calmejane as a launch pad, he quickly bridged the 20-second gap to Kwiatkowski while Tinkoff started to chase with Jesper Hansen.

 

While Gougeard crested the summit, Pauwels was the next to move and he caught Kwiatkowski and Jeandesboz just before the top, leading the pair across the line. Gallopin gave chase but failed to make the junction on the ascent.

 

Gallopin made it across just after the summit and so a strong quartet had formed with a 20-second gap over the peloton which was still led by Hansen and was 1.15 behind Gougeard. Meanwhile, Huzarski was getting closer and was now only just 15 seconds behind the leader.

 

Kwiatkowski exploded completely and was first dropped from the chase group before being distanced by the peloton. His former companions pressed on and picked up Huzarski. At the same time, BMC started to chase with Brent Bookwalter as they wanted to win the stage with Van Avermaet.

 

With 10km to go, Gougeard was 30 seconds ahead of his four chasers and one minute ahead of the peloton. However, his advantage was melting away and with 9km to go, the Frenchman was caught by the quartet.

 

The five leaders had an advantage of 30 seconds as they entered the final 7km to go but they were losing ground to the brutally strong Bookwalter. However, the balance tipped as the American started to fade and it was 40 seconds when they hit the final 6.8km climb.

 

While Amael Moinard took over the pace-setting for BMC, Gougeard was dropped from the break. However, he was able to help his teammate Cyril Gautier who followed an attack by Stef Clement (IAM). The pair stayed 5 seconds ahead of the peloton for a while as Robert Kiserlovski was keeping things under control for Tinkoff.

 

Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) was the next potential stage winner to get dropped and also Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) lost contact. Kiserlovski brought the gap down to 20 seconds and then left it to Hansen to set the pace. The Dane quickly caught Clement and Gautier.

 

While Wout Poels was dropped, his Sky team played their next card as they sent Mikel Landa off in an attack. The Basque was joined by Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) and Sebastien Reichenbach (FDJ) but that was too dangerous for Tinkoff who used Roman Kreuziger to close it down.

 

While Huzarski was dropped from the front group, Navarro attacked again and this time he got Sergio Henao (Sky) and Dayer Quintana (Movistar) for company. The latter was quickly left behind but Navarro and Henao were quickly gaining ground on the peloton.

 

Kreuziegr continued to ride on the front 20 seconds behind the leaders but didn’t get much help before Damiano Caruso came to the fore for BMC just before the flamme rouge. Meanwhile, the front trio passed the flamme rouge with a 20-second advantage.

 

Disaster struck for Romain Bardet who hit the ground together with Ag2r teammate Alexi Vuillermoz and even though he quickly got back on his bike, he ended up losing 45 seconds. Meanwhile, the game of cat and mouse started in the front group and as no one wanted to help Pauwels, Henao and Navarro made it across.

 

Moreno launched the next attack and in just a few metres, he bridged the gap. He went straight to the front to set the pace and looked like he was going to win the stage. In the peloton Caruso had swung off and as Contador was suddenly on the front, the group came to a standstill.

 

Pierre Rolland (Cannondale) launched a small attack but it was Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) who really made the difference. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Herrada were quick to respond and when the Katusha leader started to fade, Herrada made his move. He sprinted past the front group and easily rode away to take the biggest win of his career. The peloton also made the junction but Gallopin still managed to finish the stage in second.

 

Contador drifted backwards in the finale and rolled across the line in 23rd. However, it was enough to retain his 6-second advantage over Richie Porte (BMC).

 

Things should be slightly easier in tomorrow’s third stage which has a flat start before the riders get to a lumpy middle section with two small climbs. However, the real challenge is the category 2 Cote de Secheras which averages 8.2% over 2.9km and has brutal kilometre of 13.9%. The top comes with 21km to go and is followed by a rolling section, a descent and a flat finish, meaning that it could be a day for a late attack or a reduced bunch sprint.

 

The first uphill finish

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was time for the first summit finish in the race. Stage 2 brought the riders over 168km from Crêches-sur-Saône to Chalmazel – Jeansagnière and had a tough start as there were a category3 and a category 2 climb in the early part. Then the terrain got significantly flatter but it was just a warm-up for the difficult finale. The final 21.5km were all uphill and was split into two climbs. First it was a category 2 climb that averaged 5.6% over 7.5km and then a flatter section led to the final category 3 climb that was uphill at 3.8% over 6.8km, meaning that it was a stage more for puncheurs than pure climbers.

 

Fortunately, it was still dry when the 176 riders who originally took the start of two days ago, rolled out for the first small mountain stage of the race. With a tough start, it was no surprise that there were many attacks right from the start. First it was a septet that got a gap of five seconds, but it was closed down by Tinkoff who also neutralized an attack from another seven-rider group.

 

Six riders get clear

Hence, things were together as they hit the first climb. Here five riders got a gap of 10 seconds, and after another rider had bridged across, a sextet had gathered. Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data) laid the foundations for the break and had company from Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Jack Bauer (Cannondale) and Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18). While the peloton took a breather, its lead quickly went out to 2.25.

 

Bauer had a mechanical as they approached the top, but he came back after Teklehaimanot had beaten Calmejane in the KOM sprint. However, that mission failed for Lutsenko who had been dropped, reaching the top with a loss of one minute. Tinkoff led the peloton over the top 3.10 behind the leaders.

 

Tinkoff in control

Lutsenko decided to wait for the bunch while Tinkoff kept the distance between 3.00 and 3.30. Also Sky moved forward in the peloton, but they left all the work to the Russian squad that covered 39.4km during the first hour.

 

At the bottom of the second climb, the gap had increased to 3.45, and the first selection was created here. Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal), Steven Lammertink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jonas Van Genechten (IAM), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) and most surprising Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) were all dropped due to the high pace that saw Tinkoff reduce the gap to 3.15 when Teklehamanot beat Calmejane, Huzarski and Gougeard in the KOM sprint.

 

Tinkoff slow down

The gap dropped to 2.45 before the riders hit the feed zone after the second hour which was completed at an average speed of 40.8km/h. As usual, the gap grew slightly while the riders refueled but after that it briefly reached 3.10 Tinkoff quickly brought it down to less than 3 minutes. At the same time, Van Genechten became the first rider to abandon due to breathing problems.

 

The gap was still less than 3 minutes at the 100km mark but suddenly Tinkoff slowed down. The gap went out to 5 minutes before the situation stabilized. It was still five minutes as they entered the final 50km.

 

Etixx-QuickStep hit the front

Sergio Paulinho, Yury Trofimov, Michael Valgren and Michael Gogl did the early work for Tinkoff but they didn’t get any help. They had no interest in catching the break and did nothing more than keeping the gap stable at 5 minutes.

 

With 33km to go, Etixx-QuickStep showed that they wanted to win the stage win Julian Alaphilippe or Dan Martin as they put Martin Velits on the front to help the Tinoff riders. Very soon they took complete control and it was Velits, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh who went full gas with 30km where the gap had dropped to 4.25.

 

The gap melts away

The hard work by the classics specialist paid off and the gap had already dropped to 3.30 as the peloton entered the final 25km. Meanwhile, the fight for position really intensified, with Tinkoff and Sky moving up next to the Etixx-QucikStep riders.

 

The elimination started even before the riders had hit the climb where Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale) became the first rider to get dropped. Moments later, the escapees hit the climb with an advantage of 2.45 while the peloton sprinted to the bottom in a brutal battle, setting the scene for the exciting finale.

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