Criterium du Dauphine

Wiggins off to a strong start

Durbridge claims stage victory

Last updated: 3rd June 2012

Bradley Wiggins got his defence of the Criterium du Dauphine off to a near-perfect start with a close-up second in the prologue.

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The Brit was the last man down the ramp and, with the number one on his back, posted a time of six minutes and 39 seconds, just one second off the best time of the day.

The weather had looked ominous throughout the day, sprinkling the out-and-back 5.7-kilometre course with rain in the early going.

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) was able to find a gap in the weather to set the fastest time on the day, the young Australian's benchmark holding firm to see him pull on the first yellow jersey of the race.

With the roads drying out Wiggins was able to fully commit to the five corners on the course, putting time into his general classification rivals in the early going.

Andriy Grivko (Astana) rounded out the podium two seconds behind the Brit, with Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) taking fifth and ninth places respectively, four and five seconds behind Wiggins.

Strong start

After the stage Wiggins admitted that he was happy to be back racing and to have registered a strong time on course.

"I'm happy enough to finish second but it's about the whole week. I couldn't have asked for better today," he said.

"It's always the same with prologues. With riders going three hours apart there's always different conditions. The wind changed massively today. Some guys had disadvantages on the course elsewhere at the start and also advantages. That changed and you can't really compare rides. At the end of the day the result is the result and that's just the pick of prologues.

"I'm just pleased it stayed dry really because it's never nice riding a prologue in the rain. It was perfect. I stayed safe and I'm where I want to be at the moment and I'm just trying to enjoy it.

"We're getting close now. It's always nice when the goal is coming up. We've done all the work now and it's been a long process. We're four weeks away from the Tour now so there's not much training to do. It's nice that that's all done and we can race now."

Changeable conditions

With the top 24 riders all separated by just 10 seconds, the stage also saw strong rides from Richie Porte and Michael Rogers, the duo placing 13th and 24th on the day to remain in close contention in the standings.

Durbridge went out early and laid down an impressive marker of 6:39 which was followed by a sprinkling of rain which saw caution prevail for a number of riders.

Edvald Boasson Hagen was the first man down the ramp for the team and his time of 6:46 held firm in the top 10 for most of the day before being pushed down to 11th at the death by team-mate Wiggins.

The race continues on Monday with stage one which sees the riders tackle 187km from Seyssins to Saint-Vallier.

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