At the end of a very dynamic stage 2 of the Criterium du Dauphiné, Dylan Teuns of Bahrain-Merida took the stage win ahead of Wanty-Gobert’s Guillaume Martin and Jakob Fuglsang of Astana. The stage saw the GC break open with a great deal of aggressive riding that saw significant time gaps open up.
The best way to describe stage 2 from Mauriac to Craponne-sur-Arzon was uneasy. The day was littered with climbs from start to finish – both categorised and uncategorised – with the stage featuring a total of eight category 2-4 climbs in total. It was expected that attacks could light up the stage, but not many could have predicted how much that would prove to be the case.
A breakaway went clear as expected early on, but it was a break that was spoilt for riches with the likes of Gorka Izagirre of Astana, Jack Haig of Mitchelton-SCOTT, Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Ineos, Julian Alaphilippe and Remi Cavagna of Deceuninck-Quick Step, Aslessandro De Marchi of CCC Team and Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb all amongst a 14-man move that went up the road. Kwiatkowski didn’t last long, instead opting to support his team from the peloton, but the break were surprisingly given leeway from the peloton.
Predictably a break so big on a course so tough couldn’t last, with four riders eventually holding out at the front. David Gaudu of Groupama-FDJ and Emanuel Buchmann of BORA-Hansgrohe were there, and so too Izagirre and Dumoulin as Team Ineos set a solid tempo on the front of the peloton to limit the break’s advantage to just 25 seconds with 38km to go. The quartet were brought back with 35km to go but no sooner had the catch been made than the attacks began with a group of ten riders going clear including Dylan Teuns and Guillaume Martin, Darwin Atapuma of Cofidis, Serge Pauwels of CCC Team, Alexey Lutsenko of Astana and Philippe Gilbert of Deceuninck-Quick Step.
They in turn would last a fair while with a lead that went out to a little over 50 seconds at one point. But the rolling roads would prove too much for a number of the break that proceeded to fragment until Dylan Teuns and Guillaume Martin made the race-winning move with about 19km left to race. As the duo went clear of the rest and proceeded to exchange turns on the front cracks appeared for Edvald Boasson Hagen in the yellow jersey.
Back down the road Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ lit the race up with a big attack that put everyone at full stretch. Initially only Michael Woods could go across, but Chris Froome of Team Ineos was strong and able to bridge the gap along with a small select group featuring Lutsenko, Petr Vakoc of Deceuninck-Quick Step, Nairo Quintana of Movistar, Adam Yates of Mitchelton-SCOTT and Wout Poels of Team Ineos.
The intensity from the Pinot-Froome group took a big chunk of time out of Martin and Tuens’ lead but the pair were hanging on. It was interesting to note, also, the number of riders who had missed out on the main chase group with Dan Martin of UAE Team Emirates, Steven Kruijswijk of Jumbo-Visma, Romain Bardet of AG2R La Moniale, Richie Porte of Trek-Segafredo and Tejay van Garderen of EF Education First among those in a secondary chase group that were being put to the sword by a rampant Thibaut Pinot and co.
Martin and Teuns benefited in the latter stages by a bit of stop-start chasing by the Pinot-Froome group as the likes of Pinot and Jakob Fuglsang both launched little attacks that were brought back and then resulted in a lull in pace. The leaders were well within the sights of the chase group but they were valiantly holding their own with a 22 second advantage with 6.5km remaining. Meanwhile the group containing Bardet, Porte and co were a further 20 seconds behind and that gap was increasing.
At 5km to go Pinot made another attack and briefly had the group caught off-guard as he went up the road in the company of Lutsenko and Michael Woods. Wout Poels dug deep for Froome to try and bring the race back together and with 2.6km left the group were back as Pinot launched yet another attack. While it looked like the opportunity for the stage win was still on for the chase group, the Bardet group were losing ground rapidly. After Pinot’s attack it was Fuglsang to go again with Nairo Quintana also looking as though he was keen on getting in on the action.
Up ahead the leaders had to keep the intensity on with no time to play cat-and-mouse between them. Teuns had the lead with 1km to go and a 19 second advantage over the group behind. He didn’t look fazed by his position on the front but eventually Martin struck for home with a little over 200m to go. Martin looked to have the better of Martin, but with a perfectly-timed kick for home Teuns came through to take the sprint. 13 seconds later Jakob Fuglsang took a couple of handy bonus seconds in third place with Froome anchoring the group. 44 seconds later Philippe Gilbert sprinted to 12th place with Dan Martin, Steven Kruijswijk, Tejay van Garderen, Richie Porte and co in his wake.
Dion Smith and Shane Archbold got through the very difficult stage with Smith in particular able to smile at a job well done for Adam Yates who remains very much in contention for the GC; with the Brit in 10th place overall. Archbold finished in the large grupetto on a day that surprisingly lost nine riders including Nacer Bouhanni and Steven Cummings.