Ciccone Wins Stage 8 of Criterium du Dauphine
Sunday’s stage 8 was the final stage of this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné. The stage had an undulating profile as it included three Category 2 climbs, one Category 1 climb, and one Hors Categorie climb concentrated on a short 152.8-kilometer route from Le Pont-de-Claix to La Bastille / Grenoble Alpes Métropole. Weather reports were predicting 25-27 degrees Celcius and mostly cloudy skies with a 24 percent risk of rain.
Today’s stage was the final opportunity for Tour de France contestants to test their legs before the start of this year’s Tour de France on July 1, while elsewhere some teammates were set to start the Tour de Suisse 2023 today. Stage 8 of Criterium du Dauphine was also the final chance for riders to advance in the general classification and for climbers to secure a noteworthy stage victory in the legendary French race. Would anyone be able to threaten Jonas Vingegaard’s general classification lead of more than two minutes?
The first kilometers were characterized by numerous attacks. Not least EF Education-EasyPost were busy at the front and tried to send out Esteban Chaves and Andrey Amador on an offensive mission in the mountains.
Eventually a breakaway group featuring nine riders was formed. The group featured Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma), Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Clement Champoussin (Arkea-Samsic), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar Team), David de la Cruz (Astana), Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Dstny), and UAE Team Emirates’ Matteo Trentin. The group established a lead of more than two minutes when it reached its peak.
On the descent from the Col du Granier (Hors Categorie; 9.8 kilometers; 8.7 percent average gradient) Jonathan Castroviejo attacked from the main peloton and bridged the gap to De la Cruz, who was one of the riders who had been dropped from the front group on the climb. The front group was now a quartet featuring Benoot, Alaphilippe, Ciccone, and Champoussin and had a 01:15 minute lead over the chasing main peloton. Castroviejo and de la Cruz were between the two groups, 49 seconds behind the quartet.
With 36 kilometers left of the final stage, De la Cruz had been reeled in by the peloton while Castroviejo was chasing the front group in solo fashion. They were now on the Category 2 Col du Cucheron (7.8 kilometers; 6.1 percent average gradient). In the main peloton, Jumbo-Visma was at the front together with Lotto-Dstny.
30 kilometers from the finish a chasing Castroviejo had admirably closed the gap to the front group solo. The quartet had turned into a quintet.
Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) attacked on the Col de Porte and was followed by Vingegaard. They were joined by Benoot, Movistar’s Antonio Pedrero and other riders. Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen) later accelerated and closed the gap to the group.
On the descent from the Col de Porte Ciccone led the race. Pedrero had attacked from behind and was 34 seconds behind the Italian. The Vingegaard group was ten seconds further behind.
In the final kilometer Ciccone was still alone in front, but behind him Vingegaard attacked solo – he was aiming for his third stage victory. Yates and O’Connor tried to follow. Would Vingegaard catch Ciccone before the finish line?
Ciccone pressed on, hoping he would deprive the Dane of his third stage victory in this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné. He was still in front with 100 meters left and crossed the finish line first. He had done it! Vingegaard reached the finish 23 seconds later. Yates was third across the line, 33 seconds after the winner, while O’Connor was 49 seconds slower than Ciccone.
In the general classification Vingegaard won Criterium du Dauphine 2023. Yates finished in second overall, 02:23 minutes behind Vingegaard. O’Connor completed the podium.
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