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Van den Broeck breaks through at the Dauphine with first pro win; Vinokourov takes the lead

2011 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, stage 1: Jurgen Van den Broeck
Van Den Broeck won with a spectacular solo break. Photo: Graham Watson | grahamwatson.com

SAINT PIERRE DE CHARTREUSE, France (AFP) – Veteran Kazkah rider Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) took the overall leader’s jersey in the Criterium du Dauphine race here on Monday after Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) won the first stage, a 144km ride from Albertville.

Vinokourov, 37 — who served a two year doping suspension for blood doping from 2007-09 — came in fourth, seven seconds adrift of Van den Broeck.

However it van den Broeck’s impressive ride in a frantic final seven kilometres that caught most people’s attention.

Despite finishing a commendable fifth place overall on last year’s Tour de France, seven years into his career the 28-year-old had yet to register a professional victory.

“It’s a huge relief to have won,” said van den Broeck, a former world junior time trial champion who has emerged as a contender in the major stage races.

“I’ve been waiting for this win for the past seven or eight years. All too often I’ve finished runner-up, so winning the first stage at the Dauphine, before heading to the Tour de France, is perfect.

“It’s given me even more confidence for the Tour.”

“He’s finished fifth overall on the Tour and he had yet to win” enthused Vinokourov, who is now hoping his team can control the race in Tuesday’s 179km second stage from Voiron to Lyon, which could finish in a bunch sprint.

“I’ve got the leader’s jersey, which is good. Tuesday we’ll be looking to control the race with the sprinters’ teams. They don’t have a lot of chance to shine this week.”

Dutchman Lars Boom started the day in the lead after blowing the field away in the opening prologue held over 5.4 km on Sunday.

2011 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, stage 1
Lars Boom enjoyed his one day in yellow. Photo: Graham Watson | grahamwatson.com

But after the chasing peloton reeled in a three-man breakaway (containing Sven Vandousselaere (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) and Vincent Jérôme (Europcar)) with around 10km to race, the chase to the finish left the the big Rabobank rider, and many other riders, in the red as the gradients increased to a still theoretically manageable average of five percent.

Dutch climbing specialist Robert Gesink of Rabobank went on to concede over a minute on van den Broeck at the finish while Spanish Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel lost almost a minute.

Even worse off was Italian Ivan Basso, the 2010 Giro d’Italia champion who is hoping to bid for the Tour’s yellow jersey this year. The Liquigas rider lost over three minutes to van den Broeck.

With seven kilometers remaining van den Broeck pulled away from his rivals in a bid to counter Belarussian Konstantsin Sivtsov of HTC-Highroad.

Behind, French champion Thomas Voeckler countered but van den Broeck dug deep to pull away again. Despite a last gasp effort by Spanish climber Joaquim Rodriguez in the final kilometer the Belgian held on to savor a memorable win.

Katusha rider Rodriguez finished second at 6 seconds alongside Australian Cadel Evans of BMC, picking up another second place after a frustrating campaign in the hilly Ardennes classics.

“I’ve come close to winning once again, but it’s happened to me far too many times this year,” complained Rodriguez.

“Van den Broeck got ahead of me on the flat section before the final kilometer. That’s where I could have done with some help.”

Quick results:
Stage 1

  • 1. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, (BEL) Omega Pharma-Lotto, in 3:36:42
  • 2. Joaquim RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, (ESP) Team Katusha, at 6
  • 3. Cadel EVANS, (AUS) BMC Racing Team, at 7
  • 4. Alexandre VINOKOUROV, (KAZ) Astana, at 7
  • 5. Nicolas ROCHE, (IRL) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 7

GC after stage 1

  • 1. Alexandre VINOKOUROV, (KAZ) Astana, in 3:43:09
  • 2. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, (BEL) Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 5
  • 3. Cadel EVANS, (AUS) BMC Racing Team, at 7
  • 4. Bradley WIGGINS, (GBR) Team Sky, at 11
  • 5. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, (NOR) Team Sky, at 13

Complete results

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