Froome avoids crash at Criterium

Nacer Bouhanni

Nacer Bouhanni, who boxed as a child, paid tribute to Muhammad Ali on winning the first stage

Britain’s Chris Froome almost crashed on the first stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, where Cofidis rider Nacer Bouhanni sprinted to victory.

Team Sky’s Tour de France champion Froome was forced to swerve clear of danger twice as he ended the day third in the general classification.

Spanish rival Alberto Contador, who won Sunday’s prologue time trial, retains the yellow jersey.

He leads Froome by 13 seconds, with BMC rider Richie Porte second overall.

Froome has won the race twice before – in 2013 and 2015 – and on each occasion went on to win the Tour de France.

Frenchman Bouhanni, who won two stages of the Dauphine last year, sped past Irishman Sam Bennett and then finally Belgian Jens Debusschere to complete the 186km-stage in four hours, 27 minutes and 53 seconds.

When crossing the line in Saint-Vulbas, the victor threw a series of punches into the air in tribute to boxer Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday aged 74.

Tuesday’s 168km second stage takes riders from Creches-sur-Saone to Chalmazel-Jeansagniere, with the seven stage race finishing on Sunday in Superd√©voluy.

Stage one result:

1. Nacer Bouhanni (France / Cofidis) 4:27:53″

2. Jens Debusschere (Belgium / Lotto) same time

3. Sam Bennett (Ireland / BORA)

4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway / Dimension Data)

5. Jonas Van Genechten (Belgium / IAM Cycling)

6. Moreno Hofland (Netherlands / LottoNL)

7. Tony Hurel (France / Direct Energie)

8. Sondre Enger (Norway / IAM Cycling)

9. Daryl Impey (South Africa / Orica)

10. Edward Theuns (Belgium / Trek)

General Classification:

1. Alberto Contador (Spain / Tinkoff) 4:39:29″

2. Richie Porte (Australia / BMC Racing) +6″

3. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) +13″

4. Daniel Martin (Ireland / Etixx – Quick-Step) +21″

5. Julian Alaphilippe (France / Etixx – Quick-Step) +24″

6. Wout Poels (Netherlands / Team Sky) +25″

7. Romain Bardet (France / AG2R) +29″

8. Adam Yates (Britain / Orica) +31″

9. Diego Rosa (Italy / Astana) +37″

10. Jesus Herrada (Spain / Movistar) +39″

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