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Critérium du Dauphiné: Alexis Vuillermoz wins stage 2 as breakaway beats peloton

Vuillermoz takes over the general classification lead as peloton gets its timing wrong.

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Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies) sprinted to victory as a plucky five-man breakaway featuring U.S. rider Kevin Vermaerke held off a last-gasp chase from the peloton behind.

Anders Skaarseth (Uno-X) took second with Olivier Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ) completing the podium after fading in the final meters following a stinging attack around the final corner. Vermaerke trailed through fourth for his best pro result.

“It is great to win again after the crash I had last year,” Vuillermoz said. “The goal wasn’t actually to be in the break tomorrow, but once we were in the move, everyone committed to the line. It’s a great victory.”

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) won the sprint in the peloton, just ahead of Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers), but it was not enough to keep his place at the top of the standings with Vuillermoz jumping to the top of the GC. He now holds a three-second lead over Skaarseth with Van Aert dropping down to fourth overall.

Vuillermoz was part of an initial six-man breakaway that went up the road early in the stage. The group got close to five minutes before the peloton started closing in.

It looked as though it would be another day for the peloton as the gap fell steadily over the closing kilometers but a lull in the chase over the final climb was just enough for the escapees to stay away.

“It’s a nice surprise to have the yellow jersey,” he said. “It’s really a double present today. Tuesday is a hard stage and I will feel the efforts of today in my legs. I will fight to defend because the yellow jersey always gives you extra strength.”

How it happened

After opening with a hilly stage, the peloton was once again faced with rolling terrain for day two of the Critérium du Dauphiné. On the 169.8km ride from Saint-Péray to Brives-Charensac, the riders would have to tackle four classified climbs, including the second category Col de Mézilhac, which topped out with just over 40 kilometers to the line.

A six-rider group struck out early with Skaarseth, Vuillermoz, Le Gac, Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM), Anthony Delaplace (Arkéa-Samsic), and Xandres Vervloesem (Lotto Soudal) forming the breakaway.

The group was allowed close to five minutes of an advantage before the peloton began reeling it back in. As expected, the Col de Mézilhac proved to be a definitive part of the stage for the few sprinters in the peloton, it would also end Vervloesem’s day in the breakaway.

For the second day running, Dylan Groenewegen found himself distanced on a climb and off the back of the peloton. BikeExchange-Jayco sent several riders back to help the Dutch sprinter try to regain contact with the peloton that was now being pushed along by Laurens De Plus and the Ineos Grenadiers team.

As the break completed the ascent and set out across the plateau at the top, the leaders had 1:41 on the peloton behind while Groenewegen and BikeExchange were nearly two minutes adrift from the bunch.

Despite the efforts of the team, the gap to the peloton only extended, and with 30 kilometers to go, it appeared that the chase had been called off. The fight for victory would be a tussle between the five remaining escapees.

A big push from Trek-Segafredo over the final, fourth category, climb saw the gap to the breakaway cut to just 30 seconds with nine kilometers remaining. However, there was no help for Trek in the chase and a mad scramble by the bunch with 1,500 meters to go was not enough to close the gap.

With about 300 meters to go, Le Gac jumped out from the back of the break and got a good lead on his four companions. However, the Frenchman fades just shy of the line and Vuillermoz was able to come around him.

Skaarseth pushed him all the way to the line and looked like he might overtake him, but Vuillermoz had just enough power to hold the Uno-X rider off and take the win.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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