SAINT-VULBAS, France — Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni claimed the first stage of the Criterium du Dauphine Libere after edging Belgium’s Jens Debusschere in a sprint finish on Monday.
Two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador kept the leader’s jersey he seized in Sunday’s time-trial prologue.
It was Bouhanni’s fourth World Tour stage win this season following successes at Paris-Nice and the Volta Catalunya.
Bouhanni, also an amateur boxer, dedicated his win to Muhammad Ali.
Sam Bennett of Ireland finished third in the sprint.
Contador has a six-second lead over his former teammate Richie Porte of Australia overall. Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome is in third place, 13 seconds back.
The Dauphine is a traditional warmup for the Tour, which starts on July 2 at Mont-Saint-Michel.
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia has confirmed he will compete in the Tour Down Under in January, the opening World Tour event of the season.
Sagan won the world title last month for the third straight year, becoming the first cyclist to do so. He competed in the Tour Down Under for the first time last year, finishing second on three stages behind Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.
Sagan, who rides for the BORA-hansgrohe team, said the six-stage Tour Down Under is “the perfect start to the UCI World Tour season each year … a challenging and tough course, warm weather and the passionate fans that cheer for us day in day out no matter what.”
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) Former Olympic road cycling champion Samuel Sanchez, who returned a positive doping test in August, had his B-sample confirmed Wednesday and was promptly fired by the BMC Racing Team.
Sanchez’s out-of-competition test revealed growth hormone-releasing peptide 2, or GHRP-2, a drug that increases a body’s level of growth hormone. Several cyclists have tested positive for the drug, among them Italian rider Stefano Pirazzi, who was given a four-year ban earlier this week.
The U.S.-based BMC Team said in a statement Wednesday that it was adhering to its zero-tolerance policy toward doping by terminating the Spaniard’s contract “with immediate effect.”
The 39-year-old Sanchez, who had been provisionally suspended, won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.