Christophe Kern of Europcar today won Stage 5 of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné, the first French victory of this year's race, with team mate Thomas Voeckler coming third to seal a great day for the team. Chris Anker Sorensen of SunGard Saxo Bank unsuccessfully tried to chase Kern down on the ascent of the Montée des Gets and finished second. The main contenders' group including overall leader Bradley Wiggins and his closest challenger, Cadel Evans, rolled over the line 9 seconds behind the winner.
After a number of attacks had failed to stick in the early part of today’s stage, Jason McCartney of RadioShack got off the front of the peloton on his own nearly 100km into the parcours, which included three Category 2 climbs.
The Hawaii-born 37-year-old, a past winner of the mountains classifications in the Tour de Georgia and the Tour of Califiornia, and also with a Vuelta stage victory to his name, managed to build a lead of 12 minutes at one point.
However, that had been halved by the time there were 30km left to ride, and was further slashed to 2 minutes with 10km to go as the race headed onto the day’s final climb , the Montée des Gets, where he was caught.
Europcar had been at the front of the peloton as it hit that final ascent, which featured 10.7km of climbing at an average gradient of 4.7%.
The team appeared to be working for Voeckler, but it was the French national champion who himself turned domestique as he sought to check Sorensen’s pursuit of Kern, who had launched his successful bid for victory after an earlier attack by Leopard Trek’s Oliver Zaugg had been reeled back in.
As the road levelled out in the closing couple of hundred metres of the stage, Kern’s face displayed the toil of the effort of keeping ahead of Sorensen and the pursuing pack, the 30-year-old’s tongue hanging out as he rode the closing metres of the biggest win of his career, and the first in seven years.
Today was the first of the three summit finishes that will decide this year’s race and the onus was on Team Sky to defend Wiggins’ yellow jersey. The Briton held a 1 minute 11 second advantage over Cadel Evans this morning, the pair keeping very close tabs on each other throughout today’s 210km stage.
With climbing specialist Rigoberto Uran having lost contact with the main group ahead of the final climb, Geraint Thomas put in a huge effort on behalf of his team leader, the Welshman thereby sacrificing his own 6th place in the general classification.
Nicolas Roche of AG2R crashed heavily around 20km out, but after a pause for treatment the Irishman got back on his bike, his shorts and jersey shredded down the right hand side, and managed to finish the stage, while Quickstep’s Andy Capelle remained prostrate as the race doctor ministered to him, his Dauphiné looking certain to be over.
Tomorrow's 192.5km Stage 6 starts in Les Gets and ends on the Hors-Categorie Le Collet d’Allevard following a tough day of climbing with four other categorised climbs including the Category 1 Col du Grand Cucheron to be negotiated ahead of that summit finish.
Criterium du Dauphiné Stage 5 Result 1 KERN Christophe EUROPCAR 5h 05' 03" 2 SORENSEN Chris SAXO BANK SUNGARD + 00' 07" 3 VOECKLER Thomas EUROPCAR + 00' 09" 4 RODRIGUEZ Joaquim KATUSHA + 00' 09" 5 VINOKOUROV Alexandre ASTANA + 00' 09" 6 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 09" 7 PINOT Thibaut FDJ + 00' 09" 8 MARTIN Daniel GARMIN - CERVELO + 00' 09" 9 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 00' 09" 10 HERMANS Ben RADIOSHACK + 00' 09" 11 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING + 00' 09" 12 RIBLON Christophe AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 09" 13 SANCHEZ Samuel EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI + 00' 09" 14 COPPEL Jérôme SAUR-SOJASUN + 00' 09" 15 PERAUD Jean-Christophe AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 09" 16 MONCOUTIE David COFIDIS + 00' 09" 17 BRAJKOVIC Janez RADIOSHACK + 00' 09" 18 SIVTSOV Kanstantsin HTC - HIGHROAD + 00' 09" 19 BASSO Ivan LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 00' 09" 20 COSTA Rui MOVISTAR + 00' 19" Criterium du Dauphiné Overall Standings after Stage 5 1 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 18h 02' 30" 2 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING + 01' 11" 3 BRAJKOVIC Janez RADIOSHACK + 01' 21" 4 VINOKOUROV Alexandre ASTANA + 01' 56" 5 COSTA Rui MOVISTAR + 02' 22" 6 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 02' 28" 7 RIBLON Christophe AG2R LA MONDIALE + 02' 45" 8 HERMANS Ben RADIOSHACK + 02' 46" 9 COPPEL Jérôme SAUR-SOJASUN + 02' 52" 10 SIVTSOV Kanstantsin HTC - HIGHROAD + 02' 52"
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.