The Pole takes the overall lead ahead of the opening road stage on Monday

Team Sky dominated the headlines in the Critérium du Dauphiné on Sunday in Valence, with Michal Kwiatkowski winning the opening 6.6-kilometre time trial prologue to take the race lead. Geraint Thomas rode a blistering pace, but crashed on a corner, denting his overall hopes.

Kwiatkowski knocked Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) off the provisional leaderboard for the win, with his team-mate Gianni Moscon placing third.

“I know how hard I was training to be here in shape for the Dauphiné and for the Tour de France,” Kwiatkowski said. “You have to be at the start thinking about the win, otherwise you won’t perform well.”

He rode the time trial in 7 minutes, 25 seconds – one second faster than Van Emden who had carried his form over from the Giro d’Italia. It was his first win since March when he won the overall in the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Thomas was one of the last ones off today. He crossed the line 21 seconds behind his team-mate with bits of skin suit missing and some blood showing. However, he appears to have escaped serious injuries.

“I heard it was a fast bend. You have to do well there, I hope he’s all right,” Kwiatkowski added. “G can fight for the win in this race, so I hope he’s all right.”

Geraint Thomas on the 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné Prologue (ASO/A.Broadway)

Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) rode well at only seven seconds behind. Other classification men were scattered further back: Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) at 14 seconds and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) at 18 seconds. Many finished around 20 seconds like Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Geraint Thomas, Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates) lost 29 seconds.

Team Sky on the heels of winning the Giro d’Italia with Chris Froome is in good position for the overall in southeast France. Kwiatkowski and Thomas will lead the team over the next seven days.

“Both of us will lead. Geraint and myself came here to see how it is, how our shape is growing before the Tour,” Kwiatkowski continued.

“It’s an advantage to win the prologue but there are harder stages coming up. The mountain stages, four really hard stages and the team time trial. For sure, we are looking forward to a hard race. I just want to enjoy this victory, which is good because I had my birthday yesterday.”

Kwiatkowski raced the early season Classics, including Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and the Ardennes Classics. He placed 11th in San Remo. Altitude camp and this stage race will allow him to transaction to the Tour to support Froome.

“It’s going to be difficult, the transition I have to make from the spring, having to perform in the classics and of course, getting ready for the Tour. I’ve been at altitude, getting ready for the climbs. I hope to find my legs here, and if not, then in the Tour.”

He will carry the yellow jersey in stage one. It covers 179 kilometres to Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert, where a sprinter should win.

Results

Critérium du Dauphiné 2018, Prologue: Valence (6.6km)

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, in 7-25
2 Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 1s
3 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky, at 3s
4 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 5s
5 Patrick Bevin (NZl) BMC Racing Team, st
6 Matthias Brandle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo, at 6s
7 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, at 7s
8 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 9s
9 Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Team Sky, st
10 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team, at 11s

General classification after Prologue

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, in 7-25
2 Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 1s
3 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky, at 3s
4 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 5s
5 Patrick Bevin (NZl) BMC Racing Team, st
6 Matthias Brandle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo, at 6s
7 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, at 7s
8 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 9s
9 Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Team Sky, st
10 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team, at 11s