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Mads Pedersen just beats Sam Bennett for victory on the opening stage of Critérium du Dauphiné into Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule today (Photo: Jan de Meuleneir-PN-Cor Vos)

Mads Pedersen (Lidl Trek) has won the opening stage, and taken the first yellow jersey, at Critérium du Dauphiné, where he relegated Sam Bennett (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale) to 2nd place.

With Pedersen’s and Bennett’s teams having done much of the pace-setting through the stage, including closing down a long-range two man breakaway, the Danish and Irish sprinters were expected to dominate the final gallop into Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule after 172km of racing.

Ryan Gibbons of Lidl Trek have Pedersen a fantastic lead-out and once the former world champion was pushed close at the way to the line by Bennett – who elbowed Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) off Pedersen’s wheel – it was a clear victory by the day.

Bennett, who looked under-geared, tried to come off Pedersen’s wheel and steal the victory on the line but made little inroads after putting his nose into the wind, though managed to hold off Hugo Page (Intermarché-Wanty) in the fight for 2nd and 3rd.

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