Peter Kennaugh makes Tour de France case with Criterium du Dauphin stage win

Team Sky rider timed his race just right

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Reigning British national road-race champion Pete Kennaugh claimed his first victory of the season in superb style as he clinched both the stage win and the overall lead in the prestigious Critérium du Dauphiné.

A gold medallist in the 2012 Olympic Games team pursuit in London, Kennaugh’s time-trialling skills were more than evident as he first ripped his way out of a doomed breakaway of five riders in the closing stages. He then stayed clear, standing out of the saddle for a last burst of maximum power in the final 200 metres as the bunch closed in, by a scant but sufficient two-second margin.

The Team Sky rider timed it just right, crossing the line ahead of Sacha Modolo of Italy and Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen to complete the  81.5-mile flat trek from Ugine to Albertville in 3 hours 6 minutes 51 seconds.

Kennaugh now goes into the hilly 107-mile stage across south-eastern France as race leader. But the 25-year-old from the Isle of Man said that while he will try to defend the top spot on Monday, his longer-term goals are to work for Sky team leader Chris Froome – 16th on the stage –  as the latter uses the eight-day race to build towards the Tour de France.

“To get another win in a consecutive year, it’s just a great feeling,” Kennaugh said on the Critérium website. “I enjoyed crossing the line with the British national jersey. It’s my last race before I hand it over to maybe one of my team-mates. To get that win so close to the Nationals, it means  everything.”

Not selected – much to his disappointment – for the Sky team for the Tour last year, Kennaugh remarked that he hopes that it will be a different story when the race comes around next month.

“Since then, I think I’ve proven what I can do for the team,” he added, “and also what I can do for myself when I’m given a chance,” – as Sunday's ride confirmed.