Tour de la Provence: Ballerini wins stage 1

Davide Ballerini sprinted to victory on stage 1 of the Tour de la Provence in Six-Fours-les-Plages at the end of a day animated by his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Julian Alaphilippe.

The world champion spent almost 70km off the front in the company of Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers) and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), but even after being caught barely 2,000m shy of the finish, he somehow conjured up the strength to play a part in leading out Ballerini's sprint.

Ballerini still had plenty to do when the sprint unfurled, but he meted out his effort carefully on the windswept seafront in Six-Fours-les-Plages to come around French champion Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) to claim stage victory and the overall lead.

Démare, whose team had been so active in controlling the peloton throughout the stage, looked a likely winner when he bounded to the front with 150m remaining, opening a lead of a couple of bike lengths over the rest. Ballerini, however, stuck to his course along the barriers, and then accelerated around Démare within sight of the line to take the spoils. 

Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) came home in third, ahead of Clement Venturini (AG2R Citroën) and neo-professional Matt Walls (Bora-Hansgrohe). After a finale that saw the peloton forced to pick a way through roads made all the more technical by traffic islands, Ballerini emerged to win the sprint.

"For sure, I was so close to the barriers, but I found the space," said Ballerini. "The first thing I have to say thanks to all the team, they did a very great job. The sprint wasn't easy. When Démare started he took I think five or six metres. I tried to take his wheel, but it was very windy in the final, but I found the right speed and I won. The wind was coming from the right. For sure I didn't have space on the left, so I needed to try to go to the right."

The win was Ballerini's fifth as a professional and his second since joining Deceuninck-QuickStep last season. For much of the afternoon, however, it was his Alaphilippe who looked best placed to deliver victory for the team. When Ciccone and Moscon forged clear over the climb of Montée du Brulat with some 69km still to go, the world champion bridged across forcefully.

They continued to collaborate smoothly thereafter, and their lead had stretched out to 1:15 by the time they took in the day's final ascent of the Montée du Camp with 27km remaining. Alaphilippe was again first to the top there, and he appeared eager to put on a show in what was his first appearance in the rainbow jersey on French roads and his first race since crashing out of the Tour of Flanders last October.

The three leaders didn't relent even when their buffer was cut to 25 seconds with 10km to go, and Alaphilippe placed another, defiant acceleration when the peloton closed to within touching distance inside the final 3km. Only Moscon could follow that last attack, which was eventually snuffed out a kilometre or so later.

Alaphilippe returned for one last encore beneath the flamme rouge, offering a turn on the front to help Kasper Asgreen as the Dane looked to tee up Ballerini for the sprint. That effort briefly appeared in vain when Démare ripped his way clear in the finishing straight, but Ballerini's patience was rewarded with stage victory.

"The strategy was to try something just after 110km so we tried with Julian, and he was really, really good," said Ballerini. "He was only caught with maybe 1.5km to go and he also gave a hand for the team, so I think he has really good legs for the general."

How it unfolded

Like last week's Étoile de Bessèges, the Tour de la Provence has a drawn a deeper field than normal thanks to the spate of cancellations and postponements outside of France during the opening months of this season. And, as in Bessèges, the intensity of the opening day's racing was a reflection of the quality of its participants.

There was no gentle introduction to the season for riders making their debuts on Thursday, with the organisation routing the peloton out of Aubagne and immediately up the category 1 Col de l'Espigoulier. Lilian Calmejane (AG2R Citroën) was quickly to the fore, breaking clear in the company of Delio Fernandez (Delko), and they crested the summit with a lead of 4:30 over the peloton.

When the gap extended to five minutes soon afterwards, however, the peloton was shaken into action, with Groupama-FDJ, B&B Hotels and Arkéa-Samsic working to pare down that early deficit. By the approach to the Montée du Brulat after 110km, the peloton was within sight of the leading duo, and the race took on a new complexion when the Deceuninck-QuickStep duo of Rémi Cavagna and Asgreen took it in turns to accelerate at the front.

Ciccone attacked over the summit of the climb with Moscon for company, and they were swiftly joined by Alaphilippe. A bunch sprint was the anticipated outcome before the start, but it was suddenly far from a foregone conclusion as the three strongmen in front combined to eek out an advantage in excess of one minute.

Even when Groupama-FDJ, UAE Team Emirates and B&B Hotels set about the business of marshalling a pursuit, Alaphilippe et al yielded little of their advantage. They still held 45 seconds as they approached the final 15km, but the scales finally tilted back in favour of the fastmen once the race hit the coast.

Ballerini proved the quickest to claim the stage honours and the striking leader's jersey, and he carries a margin of 4 seconds over Démare into stage 2. All eyes, however, will be on the rainbow jersey of Alaphilippe, who picked up an intermediate sprint bonus to lie 5th overall, 7 seconds off the lead.

"On Mont Ventoux, for sure I'll be dropped," said Ballerini, casting his mind ahead to the weekend. "But we have Julian, the world champion. He's shown already he has the legs to win this race."

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Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 4:43:23
2Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
4Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
5Matthew Walls (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe
6Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
7Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
8Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
9Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
10Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
11Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
12Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
13Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
14Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
15Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
16John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
17Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
18Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
19Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
20Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
21Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
22Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech
23Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
24Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
25Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
26Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
27Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
28Romain Cardis (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
29Harold Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana-Premier Tech
30Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
31Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
32Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ
33Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
34Wouter Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
35Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
36Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
37Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team
38Max Kanter (Ger) Team DSM
39Ivan Ramiro Sosa Cuervo (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
40Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
41Biniam Girmay (Eri) Delko
42Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
43Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
44Lilian Calmejane (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
45Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
46Julien Trarieux (Fra) Delko
47Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
48Fabio Aru (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos
49Julien Simon (Fra) Total Direct Energie
50Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
51Laurens De Plus (Bel) Ineos Grenadiers
52Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
53Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Total Direct Energie
54Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
55Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:14
56Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:15
57Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
58Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:21
59Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
60Jose Manuel Diaz Gallego (Spa) Delko
61Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
62Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
63Jérémy Leveau (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
64Maxime Bouet (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
65Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM
66Thomas Boudat (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:00:29
67Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:33
68Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:36
69Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:39
70Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
71Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
72Romain Combaud (Fra) Team DSM
73Abner González Rivera (PuR) Movistar Team
74Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis
75Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
76Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:44
77Mauro Schmid (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:00:48
78Sander Armee (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
79Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
80Frederik Wandahl (Den) Bora-Hansgrohe
81Edward Dunbar (Irl) Ineos Grenadiers
82Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rom) Delko
83Kilian Frankiny (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos
84Maxime Urruty (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole 0:00:51
85Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:56
86Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:01:00
87Yoann Paillot (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93 0:01:07
88Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
89Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
90Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Team Qhubeka Assos
91Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis
92Louis Louvet (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
93Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis
94Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM
95Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
96Alessandro Fedeli (Ita) Delko
97Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal
98Samuel Leroux (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
99Fabien Grellier (Fra) Total Direct Energie
100Mathias De Witte (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
101Sergio Samitier Samitier (Spa) Movistar Team
102Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
103Jonathan Hivert (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
104Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
105Victor De La Parte (Spa) Total Direct Energie
106Karel Vacek (Cze) Team Qhubeka Assos
107Nicola Bagioli (Ita) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
108Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
109Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
110Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
111Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
112Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
113Andres Camilo Ardila Ordoñez (Col) UAE Team Emirates
114Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
115Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM
116Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:20
117Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
118Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team
119Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:53
120Gino Mäder (Swi) Bahrain Victorious
121Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ 0:02:04
122Delio Fernandez Cruz (Spa) Delko
123Adrien Guillonnet (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93 0:02:23
124Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:13
125Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious 0:04:27
126Filippo Conca (Ita) Lotto Soudal 0:04:41
127Connor Brown (NZl) Team Qhubeka Assos
128Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo
129Jerome Cousin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
130Tony Hurel (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
131Thomas Champion (Fra) Cofidis
132Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
133Baptiste Bleier (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93 0:06:58
134Clément Davy (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:07:00
135Ivan Centrone (Lux) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
136Emils Liepins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo 0:07:54
137Niklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM 0:13:24
138Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team DSM
DNFJulien Antomarchi (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
DNSDusan Rajovic (Srb) Delko
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General classification after stage 1
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
2Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:04
3Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:00:06
4Lilian Calmejane (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
5Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:07
6Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:09
7Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
8Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:10
9Matthew Walls (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe
10Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
11Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
12Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
13Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
14Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
15Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
16Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
17Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
18Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
19Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
20John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
21Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
22Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
23Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
24Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
25Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
26Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech
27Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
28Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
29Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
30Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
31Romain Cardis (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
32Harold Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana-Premier Tech
33Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
34Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
35Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ
36Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
37Wouter Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
38Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
39Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team
40Max Kanter (Ger) Team DSM
41Ivan Ramiro Sosa Cuervo (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
42Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
43Biniam Girmay (Eri) Delko
44Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
45Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
46Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
47Julien Trarieux (Fra) Delko
48Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
49Fabio Aru (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos
50Julien Simon (Fra) Total Direct Energie
51Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
52Laurens De Plus (Bel) Ineos Grenadiers
53Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
54Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Total Direct Energie
55Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
56Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
57Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
58Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
59Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team
60Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
61Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
62Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
63Romain Combaud (Fra) Team DSM
64Abner González Rivera (PuR) Movistar Team
65Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis
66Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
67Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
68Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rom) Delko
69Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ
70Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
71Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:29
72Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:31
73Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
74Jose Manuel Diaz Gallego (Spa) Delko
75Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
76Jérémy Leveau (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
77Maxime Bouet (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
78Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM
79Thomas Boudat (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:00:39
80Mauro Schmid (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:00:58
81Sander Armee (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
82Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
83Frederik Wandahl (Den) Bora-Hansgrohe
84Edward Dunbar (Irl) Ineos Grenadiers
85Kilian Frankiny (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos
86Maxime Urruty (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole 0:01:01
87Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:01:10
88Yoann Paillot (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93 0:01:17
89Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
90Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
91Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Team Qhubeka Assos
92Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis
93Louis Louvet (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
94Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis
95Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM
96Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
97Alessandro Fedeli (Ita) Delko
98Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal
99Samuel Leroux (Fra) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
100Fabien Grellier (Fra) Total Direct Energie
101Mathias De Witte (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
102Sergio Samitier Samitier (Spa) Movistar Team
103Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
104Jonathan Hivert (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
105Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
106Victor De La Parte (Spa) Total Direct Energie
107Karel Vacek (Cze) Team Qhubeka Assos
108Nicola Bagioli (Ita) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
109Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
110Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
111Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
112Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
113Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
114Andres Camilo Ardila Ordoñez (Col) UAE Team Emirates
115Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
116Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM
117Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:30
118Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
119Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team
120Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:02:03
121Gino Mäder (Swi) Bahrain Victorious
122Delio Fernandez Cruz (Spa) Delko 0:02:08
123Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ 0:02:14
124Adrien Guillonnet (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93 0:02:33
125Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious 0:04:37
126Filippo Conca (Ita) Lotto Soudal 0:04:51
127Connor Brown (NZl) Team Qhubeka Assos
128Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo
129Jerome Cousin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
130Tony Hurel (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93
131Thomas Champion (Fra) Cofidis
132Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
133Baptiste Bleier (Fra) St Michel-Auber 93 0:07:08
134Ivan Centrone (Lux) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole 0:07:09
135Clément Davy (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:07:10
136Emils Liepins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo 0:08:04
137Niklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM 0:13:34
138Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team DSM
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Points classification
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 15
2Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 12
3Delio Fernandez Cruz (Spa) Delko 10
4Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 10
5Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 9
6Matthew Walls (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe 8
7Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 7
8Lilian Calmejane (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 6
9Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 6
10Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 5
11Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious 5
12Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 4
13Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 3
14Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 3
15Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis 2
16Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 1
17Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 1
18Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 1
19Ivan Centrone (Lux) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole 1
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Mountains classification
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lilian Calmejane (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 15
2Delio Fernandez Cruz (Spa) Delko 9
3Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 5
4Ivan Centrone (Lux) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole 4
5Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 3
6Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 2
7Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 2
8Clément Davy (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 2
9Alessandro Fedeli (Ita) Delko 1

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