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60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré Stage 1 Live
By Staff
Date: 6/9/2008
60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré Stage 1 Live

60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré Stage 1 Live
Thor Hushvod on a mission for yellow on the road to Privas

Stage 1 Avignon - Privas 194 km
Welcome to our live coverage of stage 1 of the 2008 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré the mini tour de France and dress rehearsal for July's race... we join the race in progress with with 133 kilometers covered on the road to Privas with Thor Hushvod with his eyes on the jaune et bleu jersey of Levi Leipheimer.

At the moment we have three leaders Sebastien Joly (Francaise des Jeux), Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom) and Christian Kux (Milram). Joly attacked first after 15 km and the three joined forces at km 28; their maximum gap reached the 4 minute mark. After 133 km (61 km to go) of racing the gap is hovering around the 3.40 as the trio has found their rhythm and working well together.

The three leaders Joly, Labbe and Kux have a gap of less than 3.00 on the bunch which is led by Thor Hushovd's Credit Agricole. Hushovd can take over the overall lead from Leipheimer if he wins the stage, only one second separates the two riders. 

Christian Kux (Milram) is a first years professional and can climb very well and also has a track background. As U23 he won the prologue in the Thüringen Rundfahrt, won the KOM ranking in the Thúringen Rundfahrt and won the 5th stage in the Brandenburg Rundfahrt, as Pro he has no results yet. Arnaud Labbe has been a pro since 2005 and has ridden for Bouygues since 2006. Labbe came to the pro ranks from cyclocross and still does some races in the mud during the winter.

Sebastien Joly (FDJ) is likely the most known rider in the break. Joly a pro since 2001 and his best results are a stage and final ranking in the Tour du Limousin (2005) and Paris-Camembert in 2007. After Paris-Camembert he was diagnosed with testicular cancer as a result he missed the rest of the 2007 season. He underwent an operation and then completed radiotherapy treatment on September 11. Joly returned in racing in April 2008 and is now trying to get back in shape for the Tour de France

The Dauphine Libere is traditionally a preparation race for the Tour de France but this year it is a little different as Astana has made a goal of this race as they are not invited for the Tour. For the overall win we have to look at riders like Levy Leipheimer, Alejandro Valverde, Samuel Sanchez, Robert Gesink, Cadel Evans (as he is fully recovered from the knee injury) and some other riders.

The best ranked rider of the break is Arnaud Labbe. He is 27 seconds down on Leipheimer. The trio are still working well together as Credit Agricole is still leading the pace of the bunch with 5 riders. We see Leipheimers Astana in the second row of wheels controlling the race.

Last years winner Christophe Moreau can't defend his win as his present team Agritubel is not invited as a wild card team for this race,. Last year Moreau rode for Ag2r. The reason seems to be budget problems of the organization. They only can invite the 18 ProTour teams and have no further money to invite other ProContinental teams as "wild card" teams.

1615 CEST - The gap of the three leaders is down to 1.40 with less than 40 km to go. For Credit Agricole we see among others Le Mevel, Halgand, Rolland and Gerrans working in front of the bunch. Also the red squad of Cofidis comes to the front. Cofidis team captain is a good bet for the GC is Belgian Maxime Monfort who was fourth in the prologue a day ago. Sylvain Chavanel the big gun of the team isn't in the Dauphine as he suffers with a hernia. Chavanel really has a good season thus far . His list of victories:
5th stage Tour of Mediteraneen
6th stage Paris Nice
Dwars door Vlaanderen
Brabantse Pijl
5th stage Volta a Catalunya

The gap is still around the 2.00 with about 25-30 km to go. Recapping the situation we have Arnaud Labbe, Christian Kux and Sebastien Joly on a flyer off the front for 150 km. Credit Agricole still leading the pace of the bunch. In the final approach to the finish the riders have a climb of about 3 km at about 4-5%.

A note about the Credit Agricole team, the team is searching for a new sponsor as the French bank will quit it's sponsorship at the end of the season.

1623 CEST - The gap is down to 56 seconds with 20 km to go... looks like our trios chances of making the finish alone are getting slimmer by the minute... The gap is down to 56 seconds with 18 km to go as the break rides along the Rhone river.

1627 CEST - gap 20 seconds, Christian Kux will be the most happy with his break today. Kux took the max KOM points during the stage and will get the polka-dot jersey after the stage. That jersey is now worn by French young gun Remy Di Gregorio (La Francaise des Jeux).

 It's very nervous in front of the bunch as everyone wants to be in front with the final climb to come. Rabobank, Astana, High Road, Credit Agricole, Saunier Duval have moved to the front. High Road is now leading the pace in the bunch. Its likely that they will count on Giro stage winner Andre Greipel today

15 km to go - The gap is 39 seconds. But coming down quickly with High Road chasing like that... From this point the roads are going uphill towards the finish. 28 seconds for the three in front, Canadian Michael Barry on the front. Bert Grabsch and Adam Hansen take the front doing the work.

13 km to go -  The break of the three is over after over 160 km in the wind - Gruppo Compatto, Waiting for new attacks. Despite their success in bringing back the escapees, the High Road tempo machine don't seem to have any intention to slow down their pace.

1635 CEST - 10 km to go, Team High Road keeps driving the peloton, keeping the pace high. High road has had an excellent week in Pennsylvania and looks to be on the hunt for today's stage to add to the tally. In about 4 km the 4-5% parts will come near the finish. We will have to wait for attacks then as the riders attempt to sprinters the slip...  riders like Hushovd and Greipel can survive.

 7 km to go - 5 km to go and High Road continues to drive the peloton at a pace guaranteed to discourage attacks. A crash in the bunch with Cobo Acebo (Saunier) and Noval (Astana) but they are back on the bike again.

High Road in control of the front with 4 km to go.. 3 km to go, no attacks yet...  soon the rest of the sprinters trains will start their assault on the High Road leadership. The tempo is just way too high for any wannabe escapee to have any chance of success... wonder if we will see some attacks with the high pace of High Road. Prolly they will burn their riders to fast now

Milraman starts his attack in the final kilometer.

2 km to go, Adam Hansen now leading the pace, The final two riders in line are Greipel, Rogers and Hincapie. Four riders from the same team are riding their legs off on the front. One Milraman follows in fifth wheel.

David Garcia Lopez and Thor Hushvod follow on the Milram riders wheel. Valverde in sixth wheel as they climb to the finish.

Final kilometer - Attack by David de la Fuente (Saunier) but Captain Bluehart chases him down... Greipel is gone. Attack of Gerolsteiner, Hushvod near the front, The waterboy opens a very small gap. But is quickly reeled in. Bouygues attacks now with Wegmann

Final turn - the sprint starts Valverde moves up

And the winner is ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

Alejandro Valverde wins with by a large margin as Thor is off the saddle with Bjorn Schroeder of Milram in for third.

Thor Hushovd second, the Spaniard takes a very comfortable victory. Thor should take the over the overall lead from Leipheimer. Valverde started his sprint quite early, and powered to the line with nobody able to catch him. He even increased his advantage in the very last metres.

Results: 1. Valverde, 2. Hushovd, 3. Schröder, 4. Wegmann, 5. Evans, 6. Leipheimer, 7. Voeckler. 8. Zubeldia, 9. P. Velits, 10. Agnoli

Hushovd is indeed the new leader ahead of Valverde and Leipheimer due to time bonuses as all the top ten finishers obviously had the same time. Once again Thor will lead the opening stages of the Dauphine until the climbing starts. Leipheimer and the other favorites will prefer that instead of defending the race lead for the next few days.

Valverde slips into the point leaders jersey leading Thor by 5 points.

 After stage comment from Alejandro Valverde
“I want to thank my team-mates of Caisse d’Epargne for the perfect job they achieved in the last kilometers of this first stage. The stage was a quiet one in the way it unfolded but in the final everybody wanted to be in front because the last kilometers where difficult and climbing. My team-mates controlled the race perfectly in the last kilometers and I had nothing else to do but conclude. I launched my sprint in a very powerful way and nobody, not even Hushovd, was able to pass me. Yesterday in the prologue I already had very good feelings but today they were even better. I am in the Dauphiné to prepare the Tour for sure but it is a fact that I hoped to win a stage and today the mission is accomplished.”

This concludes our live coverage of stage 1, thanks for joining us today. Join us tomorrow for stage 2 - 184 kilometers with another stage made for the sprinters from Bourg-Saint-Andeol - Vienne. We'll be back with full results and race photos when available.

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