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CRITÉRIUM DU DAUPHINÉ - STAGE 1 & 2 GALLERY

Though much has changed this season, the Criterium du Dauphine has retained it's position as the race to watch to guage rider's form ahead of the Tour de France. A gruelling 8-day affair summitting largely HC mountain finishes, this year's edition has pulled the world's best riders in droves to test their legs ahead of the Tour. Here, we give you a look inside the race.

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After recon in and around Clermont-Ferrand, Stage 1 was a lumpy affair. Rising or falling for most of the parcours, but critically, with the staggering of the largest climb early in the day and with a further 6 categorized climbs, incentives to tear away in a break were limited for the field. With a run in to the Col du Gachet, tempo quickened, and Froome and Sagan were jettisoned. Leading the charge, it was the yellow of Team Jumbo Visma leading the way, bringing van Aert his third win in as many starts.

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Finishing Stage 1 with the main bunch, but behind the blistering attack of Wout van Aert, Landa crossed the line calmly - keeping the powder dry for efforts to come later in the week. It seemed a calculated performance and seemingly a wise one with such a strong field yet to really test their legs. _

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Stage 2 though was always guaranteed to tear up the standings. A HC climb onto the Col du Porte was the arena for the day's largest battles - despite early skirmishes from mountain classification hopefulls. The real story was Ineos - hitting the front of the peloton with 15km to go on the slopes.

 

 

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Steadily, more names were shelled. Alaphillipe faded, as did Urán, and Adam Yates. Yet, the train of Kwiatowski, Sivakov, Froome, Thomas didn't offer the strength and depth those names would suggest. The young Colombian, Egan Bernal, found himself isolated in the select group of 15 that remained at 3km from the line.

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Roglic sensed an opportunity, and provoking Bernal to attack, it was soon apparent that yellow and black would again be the colours on the top step. Team Bahrain McLaren's Landa sat once more quite happily in the lead group, sailing through each selection.

When Roglic charged - Landa kept the gap to just 10 seconds, and crossing the line, it was Bernal sprinting to overlap Landa's wheel for the same time. Not found wanting and having not shown too many cards on the ascent, Landa sits neatly inside the top 10 on GC.

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Whilst the front group finished in the drizzle of a humid and overcast day, later finishers weren't so lucky. An unexpected downpour and hailstorm struck riders finishing even 5 minutes later than the leaders. It was a cruel punishment for cracked domestiques - one that shows the true suffering of cycling; winning hurts, losing hurts, finishing hurts.

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Thanks go to Russ Ellis and Chris Auld for capturing the race - See more of their work by following them on Instagram, at @cyclingimages & @cauldphoto.