British road race champion Peter Kennaugh held off a fast-finishing group of riders to clinch the first stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné at Albertville on Sunday.
The 25-year-old — like sprint great Mark Cavendish born in the Isle of Man — pounced 2km from the end of a 131.5km ride shortly after a long break had been reeled in after eight low category hills, one of them just 12km from Albertville.
With the kind of power that saw him crowned British champion in 2014, he was able to break away from and then hold off and win by two seconds from Sacha Modolo of Italy and Norwegian sprinter Edvald Boasson Hagen and the rest of a fast approaching mini-peloton.
“I waited until 2.5km out because I knew that was how long I could maintain the necessary effort,” said Kennaugh, who hopes to now be selected for Sky’s upcoming Tour de France team.
Kennaugh, a 2012 Olympic pursuit champion, pulled on the overall leader’s yellow and blue jersey which he’ll wear in Monday’s second of eight stages, a 173km ride featuring two hard climbs.
“Chris (Froome, Sky’s team leader) is here to win,” said Kennaugh, harbouring no illusions about his place in the pecking order.
The race is loaded with star names as Vicenzo Nibali and Froome, the last two winners of the Tour de France and others fine tune their fitness for July’s latest edition of the world’s most famous cycling race.
Results from Sunday’s opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, a 131.5km ride between Ugine and Albertville:
1. Peter Kennaugh (GBR/SKY) 3hrs 06min 51sec, 2. Sacha Modolo (ITA/LAM) at 02sec, 3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/MTN) same time, 4. Tiesj Benoot (BEL/LOT) s.t., 5. Simon Gerrans (AUS/ORI) s.t., 6. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/COF) s.t., 7. Jay McCarthy (AUS/TIN) s.t., 8. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) s.t., 9. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA/ALM) s.t, 10. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) s.t.
1. Peter Kennaugh (GBR/SKY) 3hrs 06min 41sec, 2. Sacha Modolo (ITA/LAM) at 06sec, 3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/MTN) at 08sec, 4. Tiesj Benoot (BEL/LOT) 12sec, 5. Simon Gerrans (AUS/ORI) same time, 6. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA/COF) s.t., 7. Jay McCarthy (AUS/TIN) s.t., 8. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) s.t., 9. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA/ALM) s.t., 10. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) s.t., 11. Wilco Kelderman (NED/LNL) s.t., 12. Yannick Martinez (FRA/EUC) s.t., 13. Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE/GIA) s.t., 14. Jarlinson Pantano (COL/IAM) s.t., 15. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/ETI) s.t., 16. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) s.t., 17. Tony Gallopin (FRA/LOT) s.t., 18. Lawson Craddock (USA/GIA) s.t., 19. José Mendes (POR/BOA) s.t., 20. Rui Costa (POR/LAM) s.t.
28. Tony Martin (GER/ETI) at 12sec, 35. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) s.t., 42. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) s.t., 54. Andrew Talansky (USA/CAN) s.t., 69. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) s.t., 73. Jean-Christophe Péraud (FRA/ALM) s.t.
– Agence France-Presse