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Criterium du Dauphine 2018: Michal Kwiatkowski wins opening Prologue

The time trial specialists dominated the top 10 while some GC names will have time to make up in the mountains

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) won the opening day Prologue of the 2018 Criterium du Dauphine to wear the first leader's jersey of the race. Covering the 6.6km course in a time of 7:25.02, Kwiatkowski took the stage by a single second over Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Further down the order, General Classification hopefuls such as Vincezo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Dan Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) lost 00:24 and 00:29, respectively.

Although the GC riders may have wished to lose less time on such a short course, the gaps are unlikely to be too much of a threat to their overall hopes as the race heads into the mountains.

British hope for a performance at the race, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), slid out on a corner. He was soon back on his bike and despite a ripped skinsuit, he was riding in a way that suggested the damage was only cosmetic.

Considering he'd hit the deck, the Welshman finished only 00:21 down on the stage winner. This should keep his hopes of a high overall finish alive.

The Criterium du Dauphine is usually seen as the key warm-up race for the Tour de France, but there are two key differences this year.

The first is the absence of the reigning Tour champion. Chris Froome (Team Sky) recently overturned a huge time deficit in a single stage, after spending the first two weeks off the pace, to win the Giro d'Italia.

Despite his efforts in Italy, he is likely to still be named as the favourite for the Tour before it starts.

The second difference this year is that the 2018 Tour de France starts a week later than usual, giving riders longer between races.

As such, if a big name like Nibali or home favourite Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) does not trouble the podium during this current race it is not nesessarily a cause for concern ahead of the Grande Boucle in July.