SAINT-VALLIER, France (AFP) –
Tour de France champion Cadel Evans of Australia won a sprint finish to claim the first stage of the Dauphine Libere race here on Monday, as Britain’s Bradley Wiggins took the overall leader’s jersey.
BMC rider Evans, 35, outsprinted France’s Jerome Coppel and Kazakh Andrey Kashechkin over the final 4km in the 187km stage, with Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck falling off on the final climb to finish three minutes off the pace.
Spain’s 2008 Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez sustained a heavy fall but was able to continue riding, in what is a key warm-up race for the Tour de France.
The 34-year-old, who was on Friday named in the Spanish team for the London Olympics, came down in a mass crash 47km into the first stage from Seyssins.
Sky’s Wiggins leads Evans by one second in the overall standings in the race, which saw Australia’s Luke Durbridge prevail in Sunday’s prologue.
Tuesday’s second stage covers 160km from Lamastre to Saint-Felicien in the Ardennes.