Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) sprinted to victory on the opening stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, beating Philippe Gilbert (Deceunick-Quickstep) and Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo Visma) into the minor placings.
The French WorldTour race got underway with a short but challenging 142-kilometre stage between Aurilliac and Jussac. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka started on a positive note, as Julien Vermote made it into the six-rider break of the day.
Despite the five categorised climbs spread across the route, the sprint teams remained interested in today’s stage and kept the gap to the breakaway under control.
On the final climb of the stage, Deceuninck-Quickstep upped the pace and reduced the main group to just sixty riders, as the break splintered up the road. Boasson Hagen had to dig deep to stay with the group on the climb, but the Norwegian managed to do so as it peaked with just 18 kilometres to go.
Mitchelton-Scott then took up the chase and ensured the final three remaining breakaway riders were caught in the final kilometre. Boasson Hagen was able to benefit from the chase work of the other teams and found the strength to beat them all in the final sprint for the stage victory.
The stage win also secured Boasson Hagen the overall race leader’s yellow jersey as well as the green jersey, as the leader in the points competition.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – “I am really happy with today’s win. It has been a while since I have won in the World Tour, so this is great win for me and for Team Dimension Data. I was really suffering on the climb, but I managed to stay there in the group while the best sprinters were dropped. That worked out really well for me. I had good speed in the sprint and am just really happy to have won and to take the yellow jersey, even if only for a few days.”