Cofidis’ Nacer Bouhanni once again demonstrated his sprinting prowess, after claiming stage one in today’s Criterium du Dauphine in Saint-Vulbas – beating Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in a shoulder-to-shoulder battle before finally overtaking Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon18) to seize the win.
Meanwhile, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), along with the other top GC hopefuls, finished safely in the peloton to retain his lead in the overall race – 6 seconds ahead of Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team), followed by Christopher Froome (Team Sky) a further 7 seconds back.
Just two riders managed to escape early on in today’s stage, which saw Mitch Docker (Orica-GreenEdge) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) go on to establish an advantage of more than five minutes over the peloton.
However, Docker would later get dropped by his breakaway companion with 25 kilometers to go, while Backaert remained out front alone for another 15 kilometers before being caught as well.
From there, teams began ushering their respective sprinters into place, as the race began shaping up for an inevitable sprint finale.
Chris Froome managed to avert crisis on two occasions, nearly clashing with riders on sides of him as Team Sky tried to keep him safe during the closing minutes of the stage.
However, Froome’s near-clashes were just the start of the action as Katusha and Cofidis butted heads during the final kilometer as the two sprint trains tangled at the front of the bunch, with Bouhanni spending much of his time with his head on Kristoff’s shoulder before Bennett launched his finale sprint.
Following in the Irish rider’s slipstream, Bouhanni succeeded in blocking Kristof’s, thus preventing Norwegian rider from contesting the sprint.
Crossing the line first, Bouhanni threw a few punches in the air in memory of boxer Muhammad Ali who died over the weekend.
Top 10 Finishers
1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 4:27:53
2 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
3 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
5 Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
6 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
7 Tony Hurel (Fra) Direct Energie
8 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
9 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
10 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
General classification after stage 1
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 4:39:29
2 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:06
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:13
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:21
5 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:24
6 Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:25
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:29
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:31
9 Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:37
10 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:39
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