Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) won a sprint in a reduced peloton after a short but challenging opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on Sunday.
It was the third win of the season for the 32-year-old, who got the edge on Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
In a race seen as form sharpening for the Tour de France, Chris Froome finished in the reduced group of around 35 riders after the 142km run over six lush, green, hills in the stunning Cantal region.
“I doubt I’ll be keeping the yellow jersey for long,” Boasson Hagen joked after the race, but his win is a good sign for his team with the Tour just three weeks away.
“I got a bit lucky with the positioning,” he said after coming round the back of Gilbert in the home straight in a trademark powerful last 150 metres.
The day was marked by a long range attack that stubbornly clung on to a slender lead until the final 600 metres.
At that moment Julian Alaphilippe put the hammer down with Gilbert on his wheel and a win for one of the Belgian classics specialists looked a certainty.
“It shows I’ve got the legs,” Boasson Hagen told France Television after his sprint.
Earlier in the race, on the final climb, Quick-Step also tried to get away, but Froome, Michal Kwiatkowski and the Ineos band were onto them immediately.
Monday’s second stage, a 180km undulating run from Mauriac in the Cantal region onto Craponne-sur-Arzon in the Haute-Loire offers the peloton eight hills to negotiate.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2019 – stage 1 results (Aurillac – Jussac):
|1||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data)|
|2||Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|3||Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)|
|4||Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|5||Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|6||Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida)|
|7||Jonas Koch (CCC)|
|8||Alexey Lutsenko (Astana)|
|9||Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|10||Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Ineos)|