6/5/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
Criterium du Dauphiné: Viviani wins stage 2
June 3, Stage 2: Châtel - Oyonnax 191km
Veilleux retains the overall lead
Elia Viviani (Cannondale) has been fighting for sprint victories from the start of the season and after a long series of placings and disappointments, the Italian finally crossed the line first in Oyonnax after benefiting from the pain and suffering of the Giro d'Italia.
The former track rider was beaten twice by Mark Cavendish in the Giro d'Italia and finished third in the final stage sprint in Brescia. Most riders take a well-earned break after finishing a Grand Tour but Viviani's vacation plans were put on hold until after the Criterium du Dauphiné.
After comfortably beating Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard), the Italian has now earned his time off.
"This is my first win of the season after lots of placings and two second places behind Mark Cavendish at the Giro d'Italia. I needed this win for me and for the team before finally taking a break," Viviani said.
"My form is good after the Giro and so I'm climbing better than other sprinters like Hushovd and Bouhanni. I got on Meersman's wheel because I knew he was fast. Then I jumped at 150 metres to go. It was perfect."
Stage one winner David Veilleux (Team Europcar) finished in the 75-rider front group after his teammates controlled much of the stage and so retained his overall race lead and the yellow jersey. The Canadian leads Meersman by 1:56, with Gallopin third overall at 1:57. The overall contenders sit in the same time as they bide their time for Wednesday's time trial and the tough mountain stages in the final part of the race.
How it happened
The 191km stage from Châtel to Oyonnax included six categorised climbs but none were major mountains, making it perfect for a breakaway or a select group finish depending on the motivation of the peloton and the desire of Team Europcar to defend the race lead for Veilleux.
José Mendes (NetApp-Endura), Rudy Molard (Cofidis), Thomas Damuseau (Argos Shimano) and Arnaud Gérard (Bretagne-Séché) got away on the downhill early part of the stage, but Team Europcar refused to let them gain more than five minutes and become a threat to Veilleux’s yellow jersey.
The hilly route also helped peg the breakaway's ambitions and the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team helped with the chase on the côte de Communal with 40km to go, hoping to set up Meersman and perhaps test if Veilleux had recovered from his winning ride the day before.
The Canadian showed he had and stayed in the front group while several riders made lone attacks. Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) tried his hand then so did Rudy Molard (Cofidis). The Frenchman opened a gap of a minute but then faded on the last climb, with teammate Rein Taaramae having a go. The Estonian tried hard, taking some risks on the descent but was unable to hold off the peloton, with Omega Pharma-Quick Step riding hard for Meersman and Team Sky riding to protect Chris Froome.
Taaramae as swept up with two kilometres to go and Cannondale suddenly showed their hand after Viviani had made it the last climb. Most of the other sprinters had not and so it was the Italian against Meersman with Radioshack-Leopard riding for Gallopin.
Viviani executed is sprint to perfection, coming off Meersman's wheel with 150 metres to go with a jump and acceleration that left the Belgian struggling. For Viviani, the suffering and disappointment of several placings at the Giro d'Italia suddenly seemed worthwhile.
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Photo credit © Bettini Photo