Wed 12 Aug 2020
South African Daryl Impey sprinted to second place on a tough opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, narrowly missing out on the win in Saint-Christo-en-Jarez.
The 35-year-old battled to be in contention on a hilly first day of racing, but the former Dauphine stage winner couldn’t get around Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo Visma) in the uphill dash for the line.
Five riders slipped down the road in the early kilometres of the stage and their advantage stood at 4’30” by the time they reached the second climb of the day, the Col du Beal.
The gap eventually went out to a maximum of 5’30” before the peloton pegged them back to a more manageable distance by the halfway point. A crash amongst the breakaway then reduced their numbers to two, and just one rider remained with 55km to go.
The gap continued to fall steadily before a number of counter attacks were launched out of the peloton as the race crossed the finish line for the first time. Mitchelton-SCOTT were keeping a watching brief on proceedings as two riders eventually bridged across to the lone leader with 20km remaining, but their time out front was short lived.
The rapid tempo back in the peloton saw the attackers reeled in with 13km to go, with Team Jumbo-Visma controlling the head of the race. The high speed being set proved to be too much for several riders as Czech Tour winner Damien Howson moved Impey to the front with five kilometres to go.
The day was looking set for an uphill sprint for the win until a number of attackers were launched with three kilometres remaining. However, each move was quickly shutdown and a reduced bunch sprint was imminent.
Impey battled his way into position under the flamme rouge, but the Tour de France stage winner was forced the long way round a tight left hander as the Van Aert opened up the sprint. The 35-year-old was gaining on his rival as the line approached, but he just ran out of road.
“Everyone is pretty iffy at the moment with how they’re feeling, I think a lot of guys, it’s their first race back. For me I actually felt pretty good, so I backed myself a bit for the end there and I actually had a good feeling.
“To lose to Wout, it’s ok, it would have been nice to beat him. But to walk away with second today on quite a hard day, it’s really nice.
“For the final run in I knew I needed to be close enough to Wout, so I had Bernal and Kwiatowski between me. I tried to take a run on the right and they also went right, so I kind of lost my speed, I came around them but Wout already had a bit of a gap. I was running up, catching him a bit, but he was too strong.”
Criterium du Dauphine – Stage 1 Results:
1. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) 5:27:42
2. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
3. Egan Bernal (Team INEOS) ST
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.