Critérium du Dauphiné stage 1: Christophe Laporte pips breakaway survivor Rune Herregodts

Jumbo-Visma secures early GC lead after Laporte sprints past daylong breakaway rider Herregodts in heartbreaker finale.

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

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Chistophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) broke the heart of breakaway survivor Rune Herregodts (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) when he nipped sprint victory in stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Herregodts was part of the day’s early break Sunday and managed to fend off the fast-charging peloton all the way through to the final hundred meters of a tough hilly stage.

The catch was made agonizingly close for Herregodts, who had made a ragged last-gasp pursuit for victory.

Laporte’s powerful kick out of the reduced bunch rocketed him past the young Belgian and scored him a third victory of the season.

“It was really on the limit, with the rain on the downhill,” Laporte said afterward. “The last rider at the front [Herregodts] was going really fast, he gained some time.

“It was a hard nervous day. We could see him in front of us but you never really know, and all the team gave everything. Even Jonas [Vingegaard] led me out until the last 300 meters.”

Matteo Trentin (UAE Emirates) finished second, while Herregodts saw some consolation by finishing third.

Laporte’s victory hands him the Dauphiné’s first leader’s jersey with a four-seconds advantage over Trentin.

Top GC favorites like Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ), Adam Yates (UAE Emirates), and Ben O’Connor (Ag2r Citroën) all finished on the same time in the group.

Racing was tough all day Sunday in the Puy-de-Dôme Department of France.

Herregodts got away with four others in the opening kilometers of the stage in what looked like a typical “doomed” breakaway for the TV cameras.

When Soudal Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma set a savage pace in the bunch, it looked like all would play per the script.

The tempo dropped pure sprinters like Dylan Groenewegen (Jayo-AlUla) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and rapidly shrank the gap to the escapees.

Herregodts’ last remaining breakaway companion was caught around 10km from the line when Jumbo-Visma began piledriving on the front for Laporte, and it looked like the 24-year-old Belgian’s day was done.

However, Herregodts made the descending TT of his life as he nursed just a handful of seconds advantage at the front of the race. The final minute of the stage went down to the wire, and it briefly looked like the sprint teams might just have missed their chance.

But it wasn’t to be as more and more teams added to the chase, and Herregodts had his heart broken within sight of the finish line.

Sprint contenders Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hugo Page (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) were both forced to abandon after intermittent storms left roads slick and caused a spate of crashes.

Racing resumes Monday in a stage to La Chaise-Dieu which may work out more favorably for the fast-finishers that missed out Sunday.

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