Brent Van Moer put on a serious show in the opening stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. The 23-year-old Lotto Soudal rider went on the attack immediately after the start, left his breakaway companions behind at 15 kilometres from the finish, held off the reduced bunch and soloed to a fantastic first professional victory. By winning the opening stage, the Lotto Soudal rider is also the first leader of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Besides, Van Moer realised a clean sweep as he also took the mountain, points and young rider’s jersey!
“I almost can’t believe it. My first professional victory and immediately in this way and with the leader’s jersey on top of it…”, begins an emotional Brent Van Moer. “After what happened at the Ronde van Limburg, where I was about to fight for my first pro victory but got sent into the wrong way at the end, I was really disappointed but I immediately shifted focus towards the Dauphiné. I was really eager to show that I am able to finish off a race. The fact that I can already do this at the Dauphiné, amongst this strong field of riders, is just fantastic. What a difference compared to last year, when I was also part of the early breakaway but had to abandon the race due to a crash. It is really special to be now wearing the yellow jersey.”
Almost immediately after the start in Issoire, Brent Van Moer went on the attack together with Gamper, Gautier and Garrison. The four-man breakaway was never granted lots of advantage as the sprint teams set a strong pace at the front of the bunch. Garrison had to let go already early in the race, leaving Van Moer with only two breakaway companions at the front. In the tough opening stage, the riders were faced with a hilly terrain.
Brent Van Moer: “We absolutely wanted to be part of the early breakaway. At first, I was a bit disappointed that we were only with the four of us, but as I could take several KOM points along the way, I was already sure of a trip to the podium. This took the pressure a little bit off, but I knew that maybe a lot more was possible.”
Due to Team Ineos setting a strong pace at the front of the bunch, the advantage of the early breakaway went down to 1’30” but that is when Brent Van Moer his moment had come. The 23-year-old Belgian left his two breakaway companions behind and went solo in search of the stage victory. That also succeeded, as Van Moer held off the peloton in a fantastic way as he soloed to his first ever pro victory. Apart from the leader’s jersey, Van Moer also seized the KOM, young rider’s and points jersey.
“From the team car, I was told to go all out from the final climb and when I had 50 seconds advantage atop the final climb, I knew that – with most of the final kilometres downhill – the stage victory was possible. But only when I got into the final three kilometres, I was sure of it. As a team, I think we have shown that with racing aggressively, you can go really far. We also form a really solid team. I remain really careful what defending the leader’s jersey concerns. We have a really tough Dauphiné in front of us and I’ll take it day by day whether I can defend any of my jerseys. But I will definitely fight for them and then we’ll see where that takes me”, concludes Brent Van Moer.
Image: Photo News.