Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni won a sprint finish on the opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on Monday, as Sunday’s prologue winner Alberto Contador held onto the leader’s yellow jersey.
Cofidis rider Bouhanni also won two stages of the Dauphine last year but then crashed out of the Tour de France on the fifth stage.
He beat Belgian Jens Debusschere into second with Ireland’s Sam Bennett third at the end of the 186km stage from Cluses to Saint-Vulbas.
It was the 25-year-old’s eighth victory of the season, which he dedicated to boxer Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Bouhanni boxed as a child and claimed another American former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, was his idol.
A two-man breakaway comprised of Australian Mitch Docker and Frederik Backaert of Belgium had spent a long time out in front but were reeled in 13km from the finish of a largely flat stage.
Tuesday’s second stage takes the riders over 168km from Creches-sur-Saone to Chalmazel-Jeansagniere in the Loire.
The finish comes at the end of a 6.8km climb with a modest 3.7% average gradient.
Contador took the lead by winning Sunday’s 3.9km uphill time-trial ahead of Australian Richie Porte in second and reigning Tour champion Chris Froome. – Agence France-Presse