Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) jumped into the early breakaway on the opening stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné looking for mountains classification points, but he came away from the day with much more.
Given room to roam by the peloton, the escapees took enough time into the finishing circuit to contest the win amongst themselves, and De Gendt proved by far the strongest on the road to Saint-Étienne. Even after battling for every KOM, he had enough in the tank to get clear of the rest of the breakaway with AG2R's Axel Domont, and then left Domont behind in the finale to take the stage victory, and with it, the race lead.
Domont settled for second with Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) winning a three-man sprint for third a little ways ahead of the peloton, which rolled home just under a minute down on De Gendt. The Belgian will now look to fend off the top GC contenders through at least the next several stages before the high mountains.
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