Manxman Peter Kennaugh successfully keeps the peloton at bay to secure a lone win and the overall race lead in the 2015 Critérium du Dauphiné. Photos by Graham Watson

British national champion Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) defied the sprinters to win the opening stage of the 2015 Critérium du Dauphiné in France on Sunday and take the early race lead.

Kennaugh launched a solo attack from a lead group in the dying kilometres of the stage to take the victory ahead of Italian sprinter Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka).

Kennaugh will swap his red, white and blue jersey for the yellow leader’s jersey on Monday’s second stage. Thanks to his winner’s time bonus, Kennaugh leads Modolo by six seconds overall.

The day’s escape group formed after 11km, comprising of Romain Guillemois (Europcar), Björn Thurau (Bora-Argon 18), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and Maarten Wijnants (LottoNL-Jumbo). The group opened up a maximum gap of just over seven minutes along the day’s lumpy terrain from Ugine to Albertville.

Escape group on stage one of the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

Escape group on stage one of the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

It wasn’t all smooth-running for the escape. At one point, the quartet was held up at a railway crossing, but lost less than half a minute on the bunch. Teklehaimanot then later suffered a puncture, but managed to ride back to his breakaway companions.

On the third pass of the Cote du Villard and inside the final 30km, Teklehaimanot and Thurau left Wijnants and Guillemois behind. The lead pair continued to work together with a minute and a half’s advantage as the race hit the final 20km, as Katusha and Etixx-QuickStep took over pace-making duties in the peloton.

Critérium du Dauphiné 2015 stage one profile

Critérium du Dauphiné 2015 stage one profile

Thurau then attacked Teklehaimanot and went solo out front, as Daniel Oss (BMC) chipped off the front of the bunch, quickly catching and passing the dropped MTN rider. Oss was then joined by four other riders including British national champion Kennaugh with 10km to go.

Thurau was caught by the chasers with 5km remaining to make a group of six, by by that point their advantage was only 12 seconds ahead of the peloton. As his companions started looking around and stalling, Kennaugh launched a solo attack just outside 2km to go.

Peter Kennaugh wins stage one of the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

Peter Kennaugh wins stage one of the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

The Manxman hunched himself over the bars and time-trialled his way to the line with the peloton chasing furiously behind but unable to deny Kennaugh taking a memorable victory.

Sky leader and overall contender Chris Froome finished in 16th place in the peloton, two seconds behind stage winner Kennaugh.

Eritrean Teklehaimanot claimed the majority of the mountain points over the day’s eight classified climbs to wear the polka-dot jersey going into stage two.

Opening day nerves in the peloton saw several crashes, with Gert Dockx (Lotto-Soudal) one of the worst affected, sustaining a broken elbow and collarbone.

The 2015 Critérium du Dauphiné continues on Monday with stage two, from Le Bourget-du-Lac to Parc des Oiseaux over 173km and featuring the category one climb of Col de Cuvéry at the mid-way point.

>>> Critérium du Dauphiné 2015 preview

Peter Kennaugh wins stage one of the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

Peter Kennaugh wins stage one of the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

Results
Critérium du Dauphiné 2015, stage one: Ugine to Albertville, 131.5km

1. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky
2. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 2 secs
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka
4. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
5. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
7. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
9. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r
10. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar all same time
Other
16. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky

Overall classification after stage one
1. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky
2. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 6 secs
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN-Qhubeka at 8 secs
4. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal at 12 secs
5. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
7. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
9. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r
10. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar all same time

Chris Froome finishes stage one of the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

Chris Froome finishes stage one of the 2015 Criterium du Dauphine

Video: Secrets of the Toolbox – Team Sky

  • Aurelio

    Amazing attack!