Kennaugh Takes First Stage of Dauphine Libere
Peter Kennaugh (Sky Pro Cycling) has won Stage 1 of the Dauphine Libere. The Briton was the sole survivor of a daylong break, jumping away from his companions in the last three km to win the hilly, 131.5-km ride from Ugine to Albertville in 3:06:51. Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) outsprinted Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) for second at 0:02. Kennaugh is the race’s maillot jaune.
The break of the day took some time to form because of a crash that occurred at four km. The spill took Gert Dockx (Lotto-Soudal) out of the race with a broken collarbone and elbow. At 15 km, Maarten Wynants (LottoNL-Jumbo), Romain Guillebois (Europcar), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka), and Björn Thurau (Bora-Argon 18) sallied off of the front. The break led the bunch by more than four minutes at 33 km, and the escapees’ advantage maxed out at seven minutes.
The peloton chased, and with 15 km remaining, the fugitives led the field by less than a minute. On the sixth ascent of the Category 3 Cote de Villard, Thurau attacked. He dropped Wynants and Guillebois early in the climb and then dropped Teklehaimanot near the summit. Kennaugh, Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), and Danilo Wyss (IAM Cycling) bridged up to Thurau with four km left.
The peloton bore down on the leaders. With two km left, Kennaugh attacked. The bunch reeled in his erstwhile companions, while Kennaugh forged a 10-second lead over the field. The peloton chased, but the Sky man held off the pursuit.
Kennaugh’s win elated him. There was no plan for him to win the stage. He took the bull by the horns. "It was an awesome feeling," Kennaugh said. "Having a few little digs on the climb was nice to do. I spend a lot of time working for other guys, so it was just nice to have that opportunity. It wasn't really planned or anything. It was just how the race panned out. As long as I didn't take any of the threats to GC with me it was all good.
"It just worked out perfectly. I always knew that once we got that gap and the bunch wasn't coming back super fast that we had a chance. Then I just planned to attack within the last three km, fully committed to that, and pulled it off luckily."
In the overall, Kennaugh leads Modolo by 0:06 and Boasson Hagen by 0:08. Defending Critérium du Dauphiné champion Andrew Talansky (Team Cannondale-Garmin protected by POC) is 12 seconds behind the race leader. Stage 2 will be a rugged, 173-km ride from Le Bourget-du-Lac to Villars-des-Dombes. It will feature the Category 1 Col de Cuvery at 74 km. The sprinters dropped on this climb should be able to get back on to contest the finish. Who will win? Modolo? Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis)? Luka Mezgec (Giant-Alpecin)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!