Criterium du Dauphine 2016: Nacer Bouhanni sprints to stage one win

Frenchman shows pre-Tour form after frantic finale to first road stage

Nacer Bouhanni won the first road stage of the Criterium du Dauphine courtesy of a well-timed sprint into Saint-Vulbas.

The Frenchman’s Cofidis team and Alexander Kristoff’s Katusha battled hard for supremacy in a frantic run-in, with plenty of barging and elbowing on the front of the bunch.

But Bouhanni never looked like being beaten once he opened his sprint out, while Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) comfortably held onto the yellow jersey.

Nacer Bouhanni continued his fine sprinting form, winning stage one of the Criterium du Dauphine(pic: Sirotti)

On a stage always likely to favour the sprinters, only two riders went clear in the break – Mitch Docker (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

Their lead stretched out to more than four minutes but never looked a threat to the peloton, and Backaert went solo with more than 20km still to ride.

The race came back together inside the final 13km, with Tinkoff and Team Sky protecting their GC favourites – race leader Alberto Contador and defending champion Chris Froome respectively – at the front of the bunch.

Of the fast men, Bouhanni was active in calling for pace from his Cofidis team, though the opposite message was coming from the Trek Factory Racing sprint train who were happier to ease off the gas.

John Degenkolb, keen to prove he has some form as he continues his return from injury, was also brought forward with his Giant-Alpecin team-mates but Tinkoff continued to lead as they approached the technical run-in to the finale.

A huge shift from Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) set the pace through three roundabouts, ramping the tempo right up.

Team Sky were next on the front, with Luke Rowe setting the pace to keep Froome well positioned on the front before finally ceding for the sprint trains.

Cofidis and Katusha locked horns – and shoulders, and heads – as Bouhanni and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) battled for position.

The Frenchman locked onto the Katusha sprint train, but it was Irishman Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) who opened the sprint up first.

Bouhanni spotted a gap though and timed his acceleration to perfection, with Jens Debusschere chasing but never likely to catch back on.

Criterium du Dauphine 2016: stage one

1) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – Cofidis – 4.27.53hrs
2) Jens Debusschere (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal – ST
3) Sam Bennett (IRL) – Bora-Argon 18
4) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Dimension Data
5) Jonas van Genechten (BEL) – IAM Cycling
6) Moreno Hofland (NED) – 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

1) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff – 4.39.29hrs
2) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing +6”
3) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +13”
4) Dan Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep +21”
5) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – Etixx-QuickStep +24”
6) Wout Poels (NED) – Team Sky +25”
7) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +29”
8) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-GreenEDGE +31”
9) Diego Rosa (ITA) – Astana +37”
10) Jesus Herrada (ESP) – Movistar +39”

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