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Criterium du Dauphine 2018: Pascal Ackermann wins Stage 2 in scrappy sprint

Race leader Michal Kwiatkowski crashed hard but was back on his bike, and the win went to the Bora sprinter

Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) won Stage 2 of the 2018 Criterium du Dauphine from a scrappy and reduced bunch sprint. There were a number of riders in the frame for the victory as the bunch spread right across the road and headed for the finish line, but it was the Bora man who came out on top.

The overall lead could have been retained by Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) who crashed hard with around 1.6km to go, so was within the 3km rule and was given the same as that of the first finishers.

However, Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) crossed the line third to take a four second time bonus, enough to move him into the yellow jersey.

Looking back at Stage 2 of the 2018 Criterium du Dauphine

The Criterium du Dauphine is usually seen as the preparation race for the Tour de France in terms of parcours and start list.

That said, barring Vincenzo Nibali, the 2014 Tour winner, you really have to squint to find anyone in the peloton with any hope of troubling the podium by the end of the Grande Boucle next month.

If this is the preview race, let's hope all the interest and excitement has been held back for the main event.

Today we had a breakaway that got an advantage over six minutes, then there were some counter-attacks later too.

Most of the protagonists in the later moves struggled to work together so none of those attacks looked like it might stick. Television time for the sponsors though.

Off the boil and out the back was Bryan Coquard (Vital Concept), whose team temporarily left two domestiques with their leader to try and get him to the finish line safely and within time, but then left him to fend for himself.

Also in that group was Luke Rowe (Team Sky), but he looked comfortable enough for this to appear to be a leg-saving manoeuvre for later in the race and for his key role in the coming Tour de France.

The riders had progressed under rain in the early part of the stage, which cleared, only to threaten again in the last 20km.

Mitchelton-Scott, the team of the previous day's winner Impey, took up the pace and drove the reduced peloton forward in the chase of a group of three riders who'd been dangling out for a while.

If Impey could take another stage, the time bonus would move him into the overall lead regardless of where yellow jersey Kwiatkowski finished, but it wasn't to be.

The leader's team were also in a solid line within the group, keeping the jersey safe until the final hazard in the way we've seen them do in race after race over the last few seasons.

Nikia Stalnov (Astana), doing his best Chris Froome impression with elbows stuck out to the sides, was the last of the breakaway trio left out the front and he wasn't ready to sit up and be passed.

The gap was out to 21 seconds with 4.9km to go and the teams at the head of the bunch seemed more concerned with each other than the escapee.

Bora-Hansgrohe came up alongside Mitchelton-Scott and some urgency returned to the chase. By now other teams were forming their trains but with limited impact on Stalnov's advantage.

With 2.5km to go, the lone leader started to look over his shoulder and would have had the chasers in sight as his lead was chopped down to 13 seconds with 2km to the line.

Shifting focus from the front of the bunch, we caught a glimpse of the yellow-clad Kwiatkowski laying on the ground holding his shoulder after a crash at a roundabout.

Thankfully, he was later seen riding to the finish and should be able to continue with the race.