Stoianov Wins Stage 1 of Dauphine Libere
Plamen Stoianov (Big Mat) has won Stage 1 of the Dauphine Libere. The Bulgarian took a crash-marred sprint from Bradley McGee (La Francaise des Jeux.com) and Walter Beneteau (Brioches La Boulangere) to win the rolling, 198-km ride from Meaudre to Vaison-la-Romaine in 4:39:15. Prologue winner Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) remains the overall leader.
From the start, the racing was aggressive. At 18 km, Andy Flickinger and Christophe Oriol (both from Ag2r), Vicente Garcia Acosta (iBanesto.com); Christophe Mengin and Baden Cooke (La Francaise des Jeux.com); Victor Hugo Pena, Vyatcheslav Ekimov, and Manuel Beltran (all from U.S. Postal Service); Franck Renier (Brioches La Boulangere); Andrea Brognara (Alessio); Mederic Clain (Cofidis); Yannick Talabardon (Big Mat); Pierrick Fedrigo (Credit Agricole); Iker Camano and Cyril Dessel (both from Phonak); and Samuel Dumoulin and Christophe Edaleine (both from Jean Delatour) rolled off of the front. The Euskaltel-led peloton kept the escape on a short leash, and the bunch never got more than 2:00 ahead of the break.
At 87 km, Edaleine and Dessel attacked their companions. Mengin, Ekimov, Benoit Polivet (Credit Agricole), Renier, Flickinger, Camano, and Clain pursued the pair and caught them at 130 km. With nine km left, Flickinger and Renier dropped the others and stayed away until the bunch reeled them in in the last km.
With 300 m left, McGee was leading out Cooke when the scuffle for McGee's wheel ended in a pileup. McGee bolted for the finish line, but Stoianov overtook him. McGee picked up enough bonus seconds to move into third place overall.
In the overall, Mayo leads David Millar (Cofidis) by 0:05 and McGee by 0:10. Stage 3 will not be a standing shaker. The rolling, 195-km ride from Bollene to Vienne should end in a mass charge. Who will win it? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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