Alberto Contador wins Criterium du Dauphine 2016 prologue
Spaniard pulls on yellow jersey after beating Richie Porte and Chris Froome in mountain time trial
Alberto Contador claimed the first bragging rights of the Criterium du Dauphine, winning the mountain time trial prologue to pull on the yellow jersey.
Tinkoff rider Contador went six seconds faster than Richie Porte (BMC Racing) on the climb to Les Gets, while defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) was third – a further seven seconds in arrears.
With rain forecast for later in the stage, Contador and Porte had both gambled on conditions but their risk paid off as they set off third-last and second-last respectively.
But with the expected rain not falling, the gamble paid off as Contador caught and passed his minute man, FDJ’s Arthur Vichot, to kick Froome out of the hot seat on the eye-wateringly steep 4km course.
Always made to favour the climbers over the time trial specialists, the short route included ramps nearly one-in-five in gradient and an overall average of nine per cent.
Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) set the early benchmark, but it was Britain’s Adam Yates’ time of 12.07 which proved the first meaningful target time.
The Orica-GreenEDGE man was in turn beaten by Etixx-QuickStep’s Tour of California champion Julian Alaphilippe, however, who stopped the clock in 12 minutes flat to ensured it would be he, and not Yates, who pulled on the white jersey.
With Froome one of the GC men – alongside FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot – to opt for an earlier start time, the defending champion looked in impressive form too.
A fast start helped him shave 11 seconds off Alaphilippe’s time, becoming the first rider of the day to break the 12-minute mark.
His time proved out of reach for most of the riders who followed, though Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) ensured he’s right up at the sharp end of the general classification with a time of 11.57.
With just three riders left to ride, and no rain having fallen, Froome and Martin remained the only riders to have broken the 12-minute mark but Contador had other ideas.
The in-form Spaniard wasted little time catching and passing Vichot and maintained his impressive pace over the second half of the course to rocket into the hot seat with a time of 11.36.
Porte’s own impressive ride was enough for a time of 11.42 and all three men will now eagerly await reawakening their battle in the mountains.
Criterium du Dauphine 2016: prologue result
1) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff – 11.36
2) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing +6”
3) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +13”
4) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep +21”
5) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – Etixx-QuickStep +24”
6) Wout Poels (NED) – Team Sky +25”
7) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +29”
8) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-GreenEDGE +31”
9) Diego Rosa (ITA) – Astana +37”
10) Jesus Herrada (ESP) – Movistar +39”
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