After the previous day’s tough mountain time trial prologue, the 2016 Critérium du Dauphiné continued with stage one on Monday, June 6.
The day started in Cluses and travelled to the finish in Saint-Vulbas after 186km. Four category four climbs were navigated along the way, but the terrain flattened towards the finish to give the sprinters their first chance of glory.
In the event, French fastman Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) took the bunch sprint victory ahead of Belgian Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal). Irishman Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) placed third.
Boxing fan Bouhanni gave a series of punches as he crossed the finish line, dedicating the victory to the late Muhammad Ali.
There was no change to the overall standing after the stage, with prologue winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) retaining the yellow jersey.
Australian Richie Porte (BMC) sits in second place at six seconds, with defending champion Chris Froome (Sky) in third at 13 seconds.
The race continues on Tuesday with stage two from Crêches-sur-Saône to Chalmazel-Jeansagnière. It’s a lumpy stage, featuring two categorised climbs in the opening half and then two in the finale. Whether the GC contenders choose to fight it out for valuable seconds on the ascent to the line remains to be seen.
The 2016 Critérium du Dauphiné concludes on Sunday, June 12.