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.