Moreno wins Dauphine stage as Wiggins retains lead

Spaniard takes uphill sprint while Wiggins and Evans finish in the bunch

SAINT FELICIEN, France (AFP) — Daniel Moreno (Katusha) won the second stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Tuesday as Bradley Wiggins (Sky) held onto the overall race lead.

Moreno won an uphill sprint for the line ahead of French pair Julien Simon (Saur-Sojasun) and Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Nissan) after 160km of racing through the eastern Ardennes.

“When Purito (Joaquim Rodriguez) is not in the race, I have more responsibilities, especially in such arrivals,” said Moreno, referencing his teammate, who finished second overall in last month’s Giro d’Italia. “I have the freedom to run as I see fit. The last days of the Giro were very tiring, and I had to recover physically and psychologically.”

Wiggins finished ninth, with the same time as second overall Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who crossed in seventh, with the British rider leading the Australian in the overall standings by just one second.

In an interesting turn, Wiggins, Sky teammates Edvald Boasson Hagen and Michael Rogers, and BMC Racing’s Philippe Gilbert went on the attack early, countering a move inside the first 20km of the stage. The peloton pulled the group back, but Sky laid its cards out, proclaiming that the team would not go on the defensive with Wiggins in the jersey.

“We knew that the course was complicated at the beginning and our aim was to make the race difficult from the start,” said Wiggins. “Once again, the team did a fantastic job all day and, for me, it was much easier.

“You have to both defend the jersey, which is a question of respect, and preserve your strength. The finish was very eventful and it’s good to have got through it unscathed.”

Simon said that Moreno timed the winning attack perfectly.

“I was perhaps a bit far off when it came to the sprint and I couldn’t rein in Moreno, who had anticipated things well,” he said.

For his part, Moreno said he caught the group off-guard: “I started to go for it a long way out and I think I surprised my rivals.”

Wednesday’s third stage covers 167km from Givors to La Clayette.

Race results >>

Editor’s Note: Keep your browser pointed to for more from stage 2 of the Critérium du Dauphiné.