Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) went close to taking his first ever World Tour win today when he was just overtaken in the closing metres of the first stage of the Critérium du Dauphine.
Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Mitch Docker (Orica-GreenEdge) formed the break of the day in the opening three kilometres but were never given much leeway by the bunch.
Their lead didn’t extend much more than five minutes and with 50 kilometres remaining, it had been reduced to under three minutes.
Docker sat up with 20 kilometres while Backaert hung on a little longer before also being caught by the chasing bunch.
Katusha and Cofidis did much of the work in the closing kilometres to control the race for the sprinters Alexander Kristoff and Nacer Bouhanni.
Bora–Argon 18 worked well to get Bennett into a good position inside the last kilometre and he decided to launch his sprint with 300m to go.
It was just with 30 metres remaining that Bouhanni and Jens Debusschere came around him with the Irish rider hanging on for third.
“The team did a great job to position me well,” said Bennett. “In the last 500m I decided to go even up a little further by myself in the wind, then I thought I just give it a go.”
“In a tailwind sprint it is better to lead early than get stuck somewhere. But in the end it was just a little too early. With 50m to go I thought I got it, but then Bouhanni passed me. It is a petty to be so close and then still get overtaken, but everyone could see today that my speed is really good now.”
Stage 1 Results
1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 4:27:53
2 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
3 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
5 Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
6 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
7 Tony Hurel (Fra) Direct Energie
8 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling
9 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
10 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo