Spaniard and whole Movistar Team safely through demanding stage one as De Gendt (LTS) wins via long break. Blues finish 5th overall at Hammer Series Limburg
Thomas De Gendt (LTS) took advantage from a rolling, twisty course and lack of real cooperation between the main teams to take a breakaway to fruition on the opening stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, 170km around Saint-Étienne that included eight rated ascents.
The Belgian tore apart the rest of the lead group at the final two ascents of the Cat-3 Côte de Rochetaillée, and reached the finish line with a 59” gap over a bunch slightly anticipated by Ulissi (UAD), Latour (ALM) and Buchmann (BOH), who jumped at the summit of the last climb. Alejandro Valverde took 8th, third within the bunch, was 8th in his return to racing, six weeks after a glorious end to his early season in Liège.
The Spanish superstar and his team-mates will have to get through two fast-paced, possible windy stages, suited for sprinters, on Monday and Tuesday before Wednesday’s crucial, 23.5km ITT in Bourgoin-Jallieu.
Hammer Series: Movistar Team 5th in exhilarating Chase
In turn, Team Sky claimed overall victory in the inaugural Hammer Series in Limburg (NED), after narrowly holding off the charge by Sunweb over the 44km TTT course around Sittard – despite the German team starting their day more than half a minute back on the British squad.
The Movistar Team did not move from the fifth place they held before the final pursuit, though the Blues finished only 37" behind the winners as all six teams behind the lead duo got together before the halfway point. A crash with no consequences for Alex Dowsett was the only notable incident for the Lastras-led, still happy after their fantastic win on Friday's Climb.