Jesus Herrada (Movistar) has won the second stage of the Criterium du Dauphine as Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) maintained his lead over Australia's Richie Porte (BMC) and Chris Froome (Sky).

After the peloton caught the break, Herrada made the most of a slightly uphill finish to time his attack to perfection.

He made his move in the last 200 metres of the 168km stage in central France, surging ahead to finish two seconds ahead of Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal). Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) took third place.

“I'm so happy to have won in such an important race, against so many talented riders," Herrada said. The pace during the stage was steady, without any real drops, but despite Tinkoff leading for the whole race, there was some point when the breakaway got five or six minutes, and that forced Etixx to take the lead and push hard.

"That rhythm before the climbs left only one chance and one thing to do for us, follow the wheels and save energy until the ascents.

"The team managed the situation perfectly. Fran and Marc kept us well protected, Antonio helped out as much as he could and it was Rubén and Dayer's task, mostly Dayer, to follow those moves.

"I knew the finish, I kept in mind that it was so good for me, but at the same time, I couldn't spend a bit of energy more than I should, because I only had that one opportunity: the sprint.

"I tried to save that bit for the end and succeeded to keep myself calm until the final 500 meters, when Dani attacked, the break was finally caught and I saw my place to try the move into the final turn. I'm immensely happy with how things played out."

 More to come.

Wednesday 8 Jun 2016

After yesterday’s comparatively flat first road stage, the Critérium du Dauphiné’s roads veered upwards today. On the 167.5km parcours, the peloton would cross three categorised climbs before the third category climb to the finish in Chalmazel-Jeansagnière. While yesterday started with some smaller climbs before a flat run in to the finish, today’s stage saw an undulating route over the entire length of the stage. Of the day’s climbs, two of these were second category – the second of which, the Côte de Saint-Georges-en-Couzan, came a little under 15km from the finish line. On this 7.5km climb, with an average gradient of 5.6 per cent, there was an almost perfect launchpad for an attack prior to the finish, with the potential for some shakeups in the GC.

"It's always nice having the yellow jersey but our main goal here is to build our form for the Tour de France. However, it would always be better to have it on the last day rather than now. Today was a very fast day, with other teams interested in working for the stage win, which allowed me to keep the leader's jersey. It was another training day.” - Alberto Contador.

With stage 1’s relatively flat profile, Alberto Contador had retained his race lead, maintaining his six second gap on second place, having stayed safe in the frenetic sprint finish. Going into Stage 2 again wearing the yellow jersey, this was bound to be a day where the other GC contenders would try to make their mark on the race.

As was the case yesterday, attempts to break away came from the moment the flag was dropped. While an escape was expected, it was essential that none of the potential contenders for the GC would be allowed to get up the road, which saw the Tinkoff riders working hard to pull back any such breaks. With the peloton about to hit the third category Col de Durbize, the first of the day’s four categorised climbs, a break of six riders went clear, building up a small lead. With a lot of the day’s racing still to come, the peloton was happy to let this group extend their advantage to three minutes.

While the group of six became five, owing to a past pace in the escape group, the remaining riders maintained their gap on the peloton, building their advantage to almost four minutes. With some dark clouds on the horizon, there was every chance that some wet weather could bring some changes to teams’ tactics, and so a watchful eye was kept on the forecast. With the race entering its final 40km, and the gap at five minutes, the peloton began to up the pace to draw in the escapees – while it was still some 20km until the start of the Côte de Saint-Georges-en-Couzan, the kilometres in between were by no means flat and catching the break would take some effort.

“The climbs weren't difficult but there was a lot tension because everybody is fighting for a good position. I still haven't reached the optimal race rhythm, speed or high cadence in the legs but this is precisely the reason we are here. We keep adding training days. It was a complicated stage finish where everybody wanted to stay ahead. The wind was blowing quite hard so if you tried to be in front you had it against you. At the end it was a day where we spent a lot of energy in an up and down terrain but it's another day in the bag." - Alberto Contador.

With other teams working to pull in the break, at 20km out the escapees’ advantage had been halved and was down to 2’30”. With the gap down to 1’30” and with 17km to go, the attacks began – first from within the peloton, and then from within the breakaway. With splits in the peloton, the breakaway members were steadily reeled in, as the front of the race changed character completely with an all new group of four riders forty-five seconds in front of the peloton.

With just over 4.5km to go, the peloton again upped the pace and the gap dropped to twenty-one seconds, the Tinkoff riders working hard to keep the attackers in line. There was only one climb left – the third category ascent to the finish. With some steep ramps on the final stretch, the race was far from over with 1km to go, and the chasers swept past the breakaway with the peloton in tow. In a finale that more closely resembled a bunch sprint than an uphill finish, crossing the line with the bunch, two seconds after the stage winner, Alberto kept hold of the yellow jersey, maintaining his six second lead in the GC.