06/02/2013 11:10 EDT | Updated 08/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Canada's Veilleux wins 1st stage of Dauphine Libere race by nearly 2 minutes

CHAMPERY, Switzerland - Canada's David Veilleux won the first stage of the Dauphine Libere race by nearly two minutes on Sunday, with Belgian Gianni Meersman finishing just ahead of the main pack in second.

Veilleux, from Cap Rouge, Que., won the 121-kilometre trek around the Swiss Alpine village of Champery in three hours 17 minutes 35 seconds.

"It comes from a lot of sacrifices and huge amounts of work," said Veilleux, racing in the Dauphine for the first time.

Meersman came 1:56 back.

Veilleux formed part of an early breakaway along with France's Jean-Marc Bideau and Thomas Damuseau, and Spaniard Ricardo Garcia Ambroa. The peloton let them go and they built up a lead of more than 10 minutes at the halfway point of the stage.

The 25-year-old Veilleux made his decisive break about 50 km from the end when he attacked up le Col du Corbier.

"Normally I'm not a climber, but I know that I can climb decently," Veilleux said. "It was worth trying."

Race contenders Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde rolled in with the main pack, one second behind Meersman and 1:57 adrift of Veilleux.

Monday's second stage is a 191-km ride from Chatel to Oyonnax.