Tour de France: Alexander Kristoff wins crash-marred stage 1

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) took stage 1 and the first yellow jersey on stage 1 of the 2020 Tour de France. The Norwegian won ahead of Mads Pedersen (Trek Segaredo) and Cees Bol (Sunweb) after a chaotic stage that was overshadowed by a run of crashes and bad weather. At one point the stage was neutralized by the riders, such was the high volume of falls on the slick roads around Nice.

Even after the racing resumed with 25km to go the falls continued with a major pile-up just inside the final 3km taking down several riders including French home Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ). All of the riders involved in the fall or held up were given the same time as the winner. However, the stage belonged to Kristoff who timed his sprint to perfection after a chaotic sprint.

The experienced rider had no results coming into the race and few picked him as a favourite for the sprints in this year’s Tour. However, he came through with a powerful sprint after Bol had taken the lead inside the final 100m.

Pedersen finished strongly after a good lead-out from his team, but the hesitation with 1,000m to go appeared to break the rhythm for several lead-out trains. Sam Bennett’s train eventually took control after some strong work from NTT Pro Cycling and Mitchelton-Scott but Kristoff picked the right wheel with Bol as several pre-race favourites either failed to deliver or faded before the line.

For Kristoff, this was another timely reminder of his almost eternal class. Every time he’s written off or passed over he delivers another key victory, and now after stage 1 of the Tour he’s made his race and that of UAE Team Emirates.
“I always dreamt about wearing the yellow jersey and now it’s a dream come true,” the Norwegian said.

“You can’t dream of a better start. We have a team of climbers and didn’t think of winning the sprints, at least not so early on but I felt really strong in the final kilometres and going to the line, I saw I’m going to win. It was an amazing feeling. I’m really proud of what I was able to do. The boys kept me safe during the stage but I was alone in the final kilometers. But I still found a good wheel. I was sitting on Sagan for a long time. Then I got boxed in but I saw Cees Bol starting on the right and tried to follow. I saw he was fading but I still had legs, so I went. It was an amazing moment for me.”

How it unfolded

The day’s break formed early on stage 1 with Michael Schar (CCC Team), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total-Direct Energie) going clear in the opening kilometres.

The trio never really established a threatening lead in the race with Deceuninck-QuickStep and Lotto Soudal holding steady to their advantage at less than three minutes.

The stage came to life for all the wrong reasons when the rain began to fall, making the slick tarmac, tight roads and dangerous amounts of road paint all coming together to turn the course into an untraceable surface. Listing out the riders who didn’t crash would be easier, but almost every turn around the first ascent of the Côte de Rimiez found riders hitting the deck.

Nairo Quintana, Caleb Ewan, George Bennett, Tom Dumuolin, Wout Poels, Mikel Landa, and Sam Bennett were all among the early casualties but the worst hit were Pavel Sivakov and Julian Alaphilippe. 

The Ineos Grenadier rider hit the deck twice, once on each side, and was forced to go back to the medical car for assistance, while Alaphilippe fell once on the descent and went through two bike changes before eventually making contact with the peloton.

Even defending champion Egan Bernal was involved, although he was held up by a fall rather than hitting the deck himself. Sivakov’s second fall with around 70km to appeared to set of a chain reaction as the weather worsened with one fall on the outskirts of Nice taking down three Bahrain-McLaren riders, while another with 68km to go took Ilnur Zakarin, Andrey Amador, Richie Porte and Mikel Nieve.

Martin the marshal

On the second ascent of the Côte de Rimiez the break was quickly down to two riders with Grellier dropped with 62km to go. It took for the veteran rider Tony Martin to call the bunch to attention, raising his arms across the field after the rest of the break was caught just before the descent. Not everyone listened to their wise friend, with Astana deciding to race down the slick descent. It took for Ion Izagirre to ride sideways into a lamp post for sense to finally sink in. A word from Primoz Roglic into the ear of Omar Fraile seemed to help.

The slowed pace and the neutralization helped Ewan regain contact with the peloton, despite time checks suggesting that he had been six minutes in arrears. Yet still the falls came, even with the slower pace and the mood more relaxed. The wet roads took down George Bennett, with the Jumbo-Visma rider gingerly getting back to his feet.

With the race back on flat roads the riders collectively took it upon themselves to start racing again. with Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked from the peloton and establishing a lead of 16 seconds with just under 25km to go.

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Stage
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 3:46:23
2Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
3Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
4Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-Quickstep
5Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
6Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
7Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
8Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
9Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
10Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
11Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale
12Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team
13Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
14Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
15Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team
16Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Pro Cycling
17Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
18Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
19Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
20Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
21Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Team
22Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-Quickstep
23Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain McLaren
24Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
25Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
26Andrey Amador (CRc) Ineos Grenadiers
27Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
28Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
29Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
30Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
31Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott
32Casper Phillip Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb
33Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team Sunweb
34Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
35Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
36Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Col) EF Pro Cycling
37Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
38Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma
39Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma
40Ryan Gibbons (RSA) NTT Pro Cycling
41Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma
42Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
43Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
44Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
45Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
46Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott
47Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
48Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
49Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
50Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
51Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott
52Tony Martin (Ger) Team Jumbo-Visma
53Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-Quickstep
54Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
55Fabien Grellier (Fra) Total Direct Energie
56Kevin Reza (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
57Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
58Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation
59Dayer Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
60Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
61Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
62Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
63Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
64Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team Sunweb
65Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
66Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
67Simon Geschke (Ger) CCC Team
68Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
69Robert Gesink (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
70Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation
71Tejay Van Garderen (USA) EF Pro Cycling
72Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Pro Cycling
73Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
74Pierre Luc Perichon (Fra) Cofidis
75Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis
76Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers
77Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie
78Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team
79David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates
80Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team
81Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
82Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
83Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
84Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
85Neilson Powless (USA) EF Pro Cycling
86Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling
87Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling
88Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Start-Up Nation
89Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling
90Michael Valgren (Den) NTT Pro Cycling
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