Cycling: Sky's Peter Kennaugh breaks away to win opening Dauphine stage

Great Britain's Peter Kennaugh celebrates as he crosses the finish line at the end of the 131.5 km first stage of the 67th edition of the Dauphine Criterium cycling race on Sunday (June 7) between Ugine and Albertville in the French Alps. -- PHOTO AF
Great Britain's Peter Kennaugh celebrates as he crosses the finish line at the end of the 131.5 km first stage of the 67th edition of the Dauphine Criterium cycling race on Sunday (June 7) between Ugine and Albertville in the French Alps. -- PHOTO AFP

ALBERTVILLE, France (AFP) - British road race champion Peter Kennaugh held off a fast-finishing group of riders to clinch the first stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné at Albertville on Sunday.

The 25-year-old - like sprint great Mark Cavendish born in the Isle of Man - pounced 2km from the end of a 131.5km ride shortly after a long break had been reeled in after eight low category hills, one of them just 12km from Albertville.

With the kind of power that saw him crowned British champion in 2014, he was able to break away from and then hold off and win by two seconds from Sacha Modolo of Italy and Norwegian sprinter Edvald Boasson Hagen and the rest of a fast approaching mini-peloton.

Kennaugh, a 2012 Olympic pursuit champion, pulled on the overall leader's yellow and blue jersey which he'll wear in Monday's second of eight stages, a 173km ride featuring two hard climbs.

The race is loaded with star names as Vicenzo Nibali and Kennaugh's Sky team-mate Chris Froome, the last two winners of the Tour de France and others fine tune their fitness for July's latest edition of the world's most famous cycling race.