Critérium du Dauphiné: Elia Viviani finally opens his 2013 account with stage two sprint
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Monday, June 03, 2013

Critérium du Dauphiné: Elia Viviani finally opens his 2013 account with stage two sprint

by Ben Atkins at 8:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Critérium du Dauphiné
 
Italian sprinter the fastest of depleted peloton after fast, hilly finale

elia viviani

Elia Viviani (Cannondale) finally recorded his first win of the 2013 season as he sprinted to victory in the second stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, between Châtel and Oyonnax. The 24-year-old Italian was the fastest of a much-depleted peloton, reduced by aggressive riding from several riders over the late 2nd category climb of the Col du Sentier, as his Cannondale took over the head of the bunch in the final kilometres.

Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) sprinted to his second straight second place of the race, more than a length behind Viviani, with Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard), one of the few other sprinters to have been able to stay with the leading group, in third.

Also safely in the peloton was stage one winner and yellow jersey David Veilleux (Europcar), whose team had controlled the peloton for much of the 191km stage. The Canadian ended the day with his 1’56” lead over Meersman intact, with consistent finishing across the two stages moving Gallopin up to third place, another second back.

"This is my first victory this year,” said Viviani after the stage. “I’m delighted. I came out of the Giro [d’Italia] in good condition after coming second to Mark Cavendish on two occasions. That’s why I was more able than [FDJ’s Nacer] Bouhanni and [BMC Racing’s Thor] Hushovd to stay in the bunch in the climbs today.

“My team-mates Maciej Bodnar and Kristjan Koren led me up behind the boy from Cofidis [Rein Taaramäe - ed]. “I was in perfect position for sprinting. My intention is to ride the Dauphiné until stage 6 in Grenoble. After that, it’ll be time to stop.

“I’m not going to do the Tour de France,” Viviani confirmed. “Our sprinter there will be Peter Sagan. I’ve already done a lot since the beginning of the season. It’ll be necessary to take a rest soon and I won’t be racing again until August."

The stage was dominated by a four-man breakaway, which had escaped the peloton after a frenetic first 22km. In the group were Thomas Damuseau (Argos-Shimano) - for the second straight day - Rudy Molard (Cofidis), Arnaud Gérard (Bretagne-Séché) and José Mendes (NetApp-Endura), but - since three of the four were just 1’57” behind Veilleux in the general classification, their lead was only allowed to reach just under five minutes.

With Europcar having got the quartet close, Omega Pharma-Quick Step took over the chase in the closing kilometres of the stage and finished the job of shutting it down. Damuseau, Gérard and Mendes were caught with 27km to go and, despite a solo, last-ditch effort from local rider Molard, the break was all over with 15km left.

Several attacks on the Col du Sentier saw Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) escape over the top with 11.5km to go, but the Estonian could only get a maximum of 13 seconds clear before being swept up by, first Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and then Cannondale. The pace of the chase over the top of the climb had seen several of the sprinters dropped, but Viviani was still present and was easily the fastest of the group that arrived in the finishing straight.

A downhill start makes it tough for attacks to stick

The predominantly downhill roads in the early kilometres of the stage saw solo breakaway attempts from Gaëtan Bille (Lotto-Belisol), Markel Irizar (RadioShack-Leopard), Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) and Andriy Grivko (Astana), but no attacks were able to stick until Damuseau, Molard and Gérard managed to get away after 22km.

Natnael Berhane (Europcar), Martin Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Alexander Wetterhall (NetApp-Endura) tried unsuccessfully to bridge across before the trio could get too far, but Mendes jumped clear as the peloton eased up at the 40km point and got across to take the group’s number up to four.

The pace in the first hour saw the leaders cover a distance of 49.8km and, as Damuseau led over the 4th category Côte de Mornex, after 74.5km, the quartet was 4’30” ahead. The gap was to peak at 4’55” after 104km as Europcar led the peloton behind and, as Damuseau led over the 4th category Côte de Mons, after 120.5km, it was down to four minutes.

Europcar continued to steadily close the gap to the quartet, which was down to 2’40” with 42km to go, when Omega Pharma-Quick Step took over the head of the peloton. Damuseau led once again over the 2nd category Côte de Communal, with 49.5km to go, and Sylvain Chavanel led the bunch over just 1’55” behind him.

With 30km to go the gap was down to just 40 seconds, so Molard attacked the others. Molard, Gérard and Mendes were quickly picked up as the Cofidis rider began increasing his lead as the peloton eased up. At the 28km to go point the lone Frenchman’s lead peaked again at 1’03” before Omega Pharma-Quick Step ramped up the pace again.

The pace dropped in the peloton as it hit the 4th category Côte du Bugnon, which gave Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) the chace to attack. Laurent Didier (RadioShack-Leopard) set out in pursuit of the Spanish rider, with Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) also giving chase.

One local rider holds out for as long as he can before the counterattacks begin

Molard was just 33 seconds clear of Flecha and Barguil over the top, with 22.5km to go, but the peloton was right on the counterattackers’ heels and picked them up shortly after the summit. Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler led the bunch down the sweeping descent, with the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team lined up behind him, and steadily closed the gap to the lone Cofidis rider.

With 18km to go Molard was just 12 seconds ahead of the bunch, which now had him in sight, put the pace eased once again to allow the Frenchman to stew in front for as long as possible. Molard himself was refusing to give, riding on his local roads but, with 15km to go, he waved to the TV camera bike as the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team swept by.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) then led onto the Col du Sentier, but Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Team Sky were massing behind the former French champion. José Herrada (Movistar) was the first to attack, with 12.5km to go, with Ivan Santaromita (BMC Racing), but it was Taaramäe that was able to get clear, and the former Estonian champion was alone over the top with 11.5km to go.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step leading the chase with Team Sky, Astana and Saxo-Tinkoff line up behind them. Michal Kwiatkowski was the only rider in front of Gianni Meersman, however, and Taaramäe was gradually getting further ahead. With eight kilometres to go the Cofidis rider was 12 seconds clear with the road still descending; Sylvain Chavanel came up to lend his power to the Omega Pharma-Quick Step chase, however, and the French time trial champion began to edge closer.

Chavanel pulled ahead of the rest of the peloton, almost looking as though he was planning to cross the gap alone. As the road levelled out with four kilometres to go, however, the Frenchman sat up as Cannondale took over the head of the chase. The Italian team made short work of closing the last few seconds to Taaramäe, catching the Estonian with 2.5km to go.

Taaramäe slotted into second position in the peloton into the final kilometre, with several different teams mixing it in the bunch behind him. Cannondale was still at the front around the final sweeping hairpin bend with 600 metres to go and, once Viviani opened up his sprint, Meersman was unable to come around him.

Result stage 2
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
2. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3. Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Leopard
4. Reinhardt Janse van Rensberg (RSA) Team Argos-Shimano
5. Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ
6. Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environment
7. Bram Tankink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling
8. Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano
9. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM
10. Wesley Suzberger (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge

Standings after stage 2
1. David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar
2. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 1’56”
3. Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Leopard @ 1’57”
4. Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Astana
7. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
9. Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar Team
10. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky

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