Bradley Wiggins this afternoon missed out by just one second to start his defence of the Critérium du Dauphiné title he won 12 months ago with victory in the Prologue, completing the 5.7 kilometre course in Grenoble in the second fastest time behind Orica-GreenEdge's Luke Durbridge, who had earlier posted a time of 6 minutes 39 seconds. Astana's Andriy Grivko came third, while Garmin-Barracuda's David Millar, back racing after breaking his collarbone at the E3 Harelbeke in March, was 18th, ten seconds behind the winner.
“I had ridden the course beforehand, and I knew the few corners well,” said Durbridge after his victory, which reflects his continued progression in his first season as a top-level pro, which began with him winning the Australian national time trial championship as well as the individual time trial and the overall in the Circuit de la Sarth.
Nicknamed 'Turbo Dubo,' the 21-year-old is a member of the Australian team pursuit squad on the track, and first came to prominence on the road when he won the under-23 world championship time trial at Geelong in 2010.
“I worked really hard during the week with my coach Simon Jones," he continued, quoted on the Orica-GreenEdge website. "We focused specifically on the start and gauging my effort. I normally go super hard from the start line, like a trackster, but today I brought it back a little at the start. The tactic paid dividends for me in the long run. I had good legs all the way to the finish."
One of the earlier riders out on the course, Durbirdge revealed that he was unfazed as he waited to see whether anyone would beat his time. “I didn’t worry about the riders that were to come too much. I was just chilling out as I waited. I went to the car for to get my recovery drink. I put on warm clothes, sat around and waited some more. Finally, I went back to the bus with everyone, and we all watched the last couple of riders finish.
“There were about ten of us together, and when Wiggins was out on the course, we worked out the time he would need to have to come through the final corner to unseat me,” he added. “He came through at the time we had identified, so we knew it would be close. When he crossed the line one second down, the bus erupted. It was a really special moment.”
While Durbridge acknowledges that it's likely that he will relinquish the race lead following tomorrow's 187km stage from Seyssins to Saint-Vallier, which has six categorised climbs, he does have his eyes on another target: "There’s a mid-week individual time trial. I want to go well there, too," he disclosed.
Despite finishing second, Wiggins was happy enough with the start of the defence of his title as well as his preparations for the Tour de France, going into the Dauphiné having won Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie earlier this season.
"I'm happy enough to finish second but it's about the whole week. I couldn't have asked for better today," he said, quoted on the Team Sky website. "It's always the same with prologues. With riders going three hours apart there's always different conditions.
"The wind changed massively today. Some guys had disadvantages on the course elsewhere at the start and also advantages. That changed and you can't really compare rides. At the end of the day the result is the result and that's just the pick of prologues.
"I'm just pleased it stayed dry really because it's never nice riding a prologue in the rain. It was perfect. I stayed safe and I'm where I want to be at the moment and I'm just trying to enjoy it.
"We're getting close now. It's always nice when the goal is coming up. We've done all the work now and it's been a long process. We're four weeks away from the Tour now so there's not much training to do. It's nice that that's all done and we can race now," Wiggins added.
Critérium du Dauphiné Prologue Result 1 DURBRIDGE Luke ORICA GREENEDGE 06' 38" 2 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 01" 3 GRIVKO Andriy ASTANA PRO TEAM + 00' 03" 4 BARREDO Carlos RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM + 00' 03" 5 MARTIN Tony OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP + 00' 05" 6 GERRANS Simon ORICA GREENEDGE + 00' 05" 7 MARTENS Paul RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM + 00' 05" 8 CHAVANEL Sylvain OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP + 00' 06" 9 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 06" 10 AMADOR Andrey MOVISTAR TEAM + 00' 07" 11 HAGEN Edvald Boasson SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 07" 12 WESTRA Lieuwe VACANSOLEIL-DCM + 00' 07" 13 PORTE Richie SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 08" 14 RUIJGH Rob VACANSOLEIL-DCM + 00' 09" 15 ROUX Anthony FDJ-BIGMAT + 00' 09" 16 CIOLEK Gerald OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP + 00' 09" 17 IRIZAR Markel RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 00' 09" 18 MILLAR David GARMIN - BARRACUDA + 00' 10" 19 SANCHEZ Luis-Leon RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM + 00' 10" 20 LEMOINE Cyril SAUR-SOJASUN + 00' 10"
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.