John Degenkolb of HTC-Highroad this afternon took Stage 2 of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné, the 22-year-old German first year professional proving the strongest rider at the finale on the climb of the Côte de la Croix-Rousse in Lyon. Samuel Dumoulin of Cofidis was second and AG2R's Sebastien Hinault third.
Astana's Alexander Vinokourov retains the overall lead, with Jurgen Van Den Broeck 11 seconds behind in second place. Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky lies third and Cadel Evans fourth, respectively 11 and 13 seconds down on the Kazakh, ahead of tomorrow's individual time trial in Grenoble.
With a little over 20km to go in today's stage, the peloton had split in two with the pace of chasing down a three-man break causing the riders being strung out as they negotiated twisting roads and street furniture on the outskirts of Lyon and strong winds combining to snap the elastic holding the bunch together.
With overall leader Vinokourov and several of his Astana colleagues in the front group, they were joined by AG2R and Movistar in putting down the hammer and swept up the day’s three escapees – Jürgen Van de Walle of Omega Pharma Lotto, Maarten Tjallingii from Rabobank and Leopard Trek’s Brice Feillu - 15km from the finish.
That trio had got away 10km into today’s 179km stage from Voiron, which featured four Category 4 climbs, the last of those being right at the Croix-Rousse, featuring 1.4 kilometres of climbing at an average gradient of 4.8 per cent.
After that split in the peloton, Team Sky, whose Edvald Boasson Hagen suffered a mechanical problem inside the closing ten kilometres, and BMC, including Cadel Evans who today sported the green points jersey, chased hard and managed to get back to the lead group.
However, with tomorrow featuring a Tour de France rehearsal in the shape of an individual time trial in Grenoble on the same roads that will be used next month in the Tour de France, it remains to be seen how much the pursuit sapped the energy from the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, not to mention Evans.
Approaching the foot of the Côte de la Croix-Rousse, the peloton had regrouped, but a number of riders saw their chances scuppered as they went the wrong way at the roundabout they had to negotiate before hitting the climb, while yesterday's stage winner, Jurgen Van Den Broeck of Omega Pharma-Lotto, was brought down in a crash.
As yesterday, it was Thomas Voeckler of Europcar who launched an attack as the race headed through the hairpin bends on the ascent, but again it was not to be his day, the Frenchman finishing sixth as the strong Degenkolb, surely a star of the future, waited till late on to make his decisive move.
Criterium du Dauphiné Stage 2 Result 1 DEGENKOLB John HTC-HIGHROAD 4h 02' 39" 2 DUMOULIN Samuel COFIDIS + 00' 00" 3 HINAULT Sébastien AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 00" 4 MARTENS Paul RABOBANK + 00' 00" 5 RODRIGUEZ Joaquim KATUSHA + 00' 00" 6 VOECKLER Thomas EUROPCAR + 00' 00" 7 VANENDERT Jelle OMEGA PHARMA-LOTTO + 00' 00" 8 BOLE Grega LAMPRE-ISD + 00' 00" 9 ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 00" 10 WEGMANN Fabian LEOPARD TREK + 00' 00" 11 RUIJGH Rob VACANSOLEIL-DCM + 00' 00" 12 LEQUATRE Geoffroy RADIOSHACK + 00' 00" 13 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 00" 14 VINOKOUROV Alexandre ASTANA + 00' 00" 15 KOREN Kristjan LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 00' 06" 16 COPPEL Jérôme SAUR-SOJASUN + 00' 06" 17 COSTA Rui MOVISTAR + 00' 06" 18 MONCOUTIE David COFIDIS + 00' 06" 19 HERMANS Ben RADIOSHACK + 00' 06" 20 ZAUGG Oliver LEOPARD TREK + 00' 06" Criterium du Dauphiné Overall Standings after Stage 2 1 VINOKOUROV Alexandre ASTANA 7h 45' 48" 2 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA-LOTTO + 00' 11" 3 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 11" 4 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING + 00' 13" 5 ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 17" 6 RODRIGUEZ Joaquim KATUSHA + 00' 23" 7 BRAJKOVIC Janez RADIOSHACK + 00' 26" 8 VOECKLER Thomas EUROPCAR + 00' 27" 9 RUIJGH Rob VACANSOLEIL-DCM + 00' 29" 10 COSTA Rui MOVISTAR + 00' 34"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.