Nacer Bouhanni wins first stage of the Criterium du Dauphine

Britain’s Chris Froome forced to swerve to avoid tumble as Sam Bennett finishes strongly

Cofidis’ French rider Nacer Bouhanni celebrates on the finish line during the second stage (Cluses-Saint-Vulbas), next to Belgian rider Jens Debusschere (left) and Irish rider Sam Bennett, of the 68th edition of the Dauphine Criterium. Photograph: Getty Images

Britain's Chris Froome almost took a tumble as Cofidis rider Nacer Bouhanni sprinted to victory in the first stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in Saint-Vulbas.

Froome was forced to swerve clear of danger twice in quick succession towards the end of the race as the Team Sky rider came under pressure from two rivals either side of him.

The two-time Tour de France winner managed to regain his balance just in time to avoid a crash but was unable to prevent Frenchman Bouhanni from claiming the stage, while Spanish rival Alberto Contador, who won the time trial, held on to the yellow jersey.

Froome sits 13 seconds behind Tinkoff's Contador, while BMC rider Richie Porte is placed second, six seconds in front.


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

Upon crossing the line, the victor threw a series of punches into the air in tribute to boxer Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday following a battle with Parkinson's disease. The second stage on Tuesday will see riders take on 168km from Creches-sur-Saone to Chalmazel-Jeansagniere.