SAINT-ETIENNE, France — Belgian rider Thomas De Gendt won the opening stage of the Criterium du Dauphine race after a solo breakaway on Sunday.

De Gendt, a stage winner in the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, completed the 170.5-kilometer (106-mile) trek starting and ending in Saint-Etienne in 4 hours, 17 minutes.

He finished 44 seconds clear of Frenchman Axel Domont and 57 seconds ahead of Italian Diego Ulissi.

Defending champion Chris Froome, who is bidding to win the race for the fourth time, placed safely in the main pack, 1:09 behind.

Monday’s second stage — 171 kilometers from Saint-Chamond to Arlanc — is a flat route for sprinters.

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