ALBERTVILLE, France — Peter Kennaugh (Sky) won the first stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Sunday.
The British national champion attacked 2km from the finish, crossing the line two seconds ahead of Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) to win the 131.5km opener from Ugine to Albertville and take the first leader’s jersey.
“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 Tour de France team.
The break of the day — Maarten Wijnants (LottoNL-Jumbo), Romain Guillemois (Europcar), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and Björn Thurau (Bora-Argon 18) — escaped at 8.5km and quickly built a lead of more than seven minutes.
Teklehaimanot scored the first mountain jersey, but it was Thurau who was the last man standing, surviving until the final 4km, when he was overhauled by Kennaugh, Daniel Oss (BMC), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) and Danilo Wyss (IAM Cycling).
Then Kennaugh made what proved to be the winning move, beating his former companions to the stage win and denying the sprinters a shot at glory.
Monday’s second stage is a 173km leg from Le Bourget-du-Lac to Villars-les-Dombes. And while Kennaugh clearly relishes taking the yellow jersey, he doesn’t expect to keep it with team leader Chris Froome in the peloton.
“Chris is here to win,” he said.