A powerful uphill surge gave Spanish climber Dani Moreno victory on stage 2 of the Criterium du Dauphine on Tuesday, while Britain’s Bradley Wiggins repelled some late challenges to maintain his narrow overall lead.
Moreno moved away from the splintering peloton late on the 2.4km climb to Saint-Felicien, France, to claim his biggest victory since a mountain-top stage win in the Vuelta a Espana in September last year.
France’s Julien Simon took second place behind the Katusha rider on the fast-paced, sinuous 160km stage through the verdant Ardeche hills, with Frenchman Tony Gallopin finishing third.
“I attacked with 200m to go and could stay away, it wasn’t so complicated,” Moreno told reporters. “I knew this kind of finish suited me, so even if other people didn’t consider me the favorite, I did. Together with my victory in the Vuelta and the win in the Tour of Piamonte [last year], this is one of the three most important wins of my career.”
Moreno’s role is usually that of key wingman for Spanish stage race specialist and Katusha teammate Joaquim Rodriguez, recently runner-up in the Giro d’Italia, but with Rodriguez, a double Criterium du Dauphin stage winner last year, making a late decision not to race, Moreno has had more freedom to strike out in his own right.
“It was a very difficult finish, everybody was getting nervous on the downhill before this little climb, but I knew I could have a chance here,” Moreno said.
Ninth on the stage, defending champion Wiggins remains the overall leader, with Australian Cadel Evans in second and Andrej Grivko of Ukraine third.
Keen to repeat his victory on the first stage, Evans’ BMC squad kept the pace on the fast, sweeping descent that precedes the final climb.
First the Australian and then world time trial champion Tony Martin steadily upped the pace at the front of the peloton on the last steady, shallow ascent, but Wiggins was more than able to handle the change of rhythm.