The Critérium du Dauphiné started yesterday, and it’s the first time most Tour de France contenders will get to gauge each other’s forms after a long spring spent either training in secret Canary Islands training camps or scattered about lesser early-season stage races. Sunday’s prologue was a time trial, so it was boring as shit, but today’s flat stage was surprisingly spicy. Katusha and Cofidis have the best two sprinters in the race (Alexander Kristoff and Nacer Bouhanni, respectively) and both teams tried to run full on leadout trains right on top of each other.
Nobody was willing to share space or get in line, so the last few kilometers were full of Katusha and Cofidis riders headbutting each other at 30+ MPH and jockeying for position with uncharacteristic abandon.
The bickering nearly took down defending Tour champion Chris Froome.
Bouhanni eventually won the sprint after he successfully won the shoulder-rubbing battle and buried Kristoff in the peloton. Nobody was penalized for the series of incidents, but other riders were rather critical of the whole kerfuffle.
As cycling fights go, it’s about par for the course (weak),and falls well short of Rui Costa and Carlos Barredo’s wheel swinging match at the 2010 Tour.