– What happened? –
Renowned breakaway expert Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) is the first leader of the Critérium du Dauphiné after taking a lone victory in the hilly opening stage to Saint-Étienne. De Gendt dropped his closest pursuer, Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale), on a short final climb near the finish to take the win by 45 seconds.
For De Gendt, who has triumphed both on the Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France and the Stelvio pass in the Giro d’Italia, this was his first win of the season. With stage victories in similar events like the Tour de Suisse, Paris-Nice and the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in his palmares, Sunday’s stage was also the 30-year-old Belgian’s first ever win in the Critérium du Dauphiné. After keeping his lead in the second stage – won by Arnaud Demare (FDJ) in a bunch sprint – De Gendt hopes to remain in the leader’s jersey until Friday’s first major mountainous stage.
Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) continues to lead the UCI WorldTour individual rankings, but Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), the recent winner of the Giro d’Italia, has rocketed up the classification to third, with 1,851 points. Meanwhile, Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), second in the Giro d’Italia, has jumped from 24th to sixth.
After his superb Spring Classics campaign, on his return to racing last week, Van Avermaet continued to show strong form with victory in two stages and the overall of the Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg, a 2.HC category event.
– What’s on? –
Critérium du Dauphiné, France. Sunday June 4th – Sunday June 11th
Tour de Suisse, Switzerland. Saturday June 10th – Sunday June 18th
– Focus on Louis Meintjes –
South African climbing phenomenon Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) turned pro in 2014 for MTN-Qhubeka, after taking silver in the U-23 UCI Road World Championships the previous autumn. Victory in the South African national road race and completing his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, quickly followed. A triumph in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali stage race in 2015, along with tenth place in the Vuelta a España and eighth in the Tour de France last July – capped with a promising fourth place in the Tour’s final summit finish – has shown Meintjes continues steadily to progress. And the 25-year-old may well raise his game again in this summer’s Tour de France.
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