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The Tour de la Provence has established itself on the calendar since its inaugural edition in 2016 and this year's race offers a particularly well balanced route. The four-day event gets underway with today's 7.1km prologue time trial in Berre-L'Étang and the sprinters should be to the fore on tomorrow's opening road stage. Stage 2 to Manosque might give the puncheurs a chance to shine while the race concludes with a stiff summit finish at Motagne de Lure on Sunday. In other words, there's something for everybody, even if all eyes will inevitably be on world champion Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), who begins his 2022 season here.

The 105 riders will roll down the start ramp this afternoon at one-minute intervals. Kevin Besson (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur) is the first man off at 14:15 local time, while Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) is the last man in action, setting out at 16:09.

Riders to look out for include 2020 winner Nairo Quintana (14:54), Groupama-FDJ new arrival Michael Storer (15:10), defending champion Ivan Sosa (15:18), Olympic champion Richard Carapaz (15:33), Arnaud Démare (16:01) and Alaphilippe, who is the penultimate starter at 16:08. The man expected to wear the leader’s jersey this evening is the third last rider off. World time trial champion Filippo Ganna is in action at 16:07.

Twelve months ago, Julian Alaphilippe placed second overall at the Tour de la Provence thanks to a strong showing on Mont Ventoux and some all-action racing on the opening day. This time out, the world champion insists he is not at his best, having missed a week of training through illness last month and given that he skips the cobbled Classics this year to focus on the Ardennes. “I don’t have special ambitions here, I just want to get my bearings over the four days of racing, but there’s a good field, riders with races already in their legs. There’s no stress, I just want to enjoy it," Alaphilippe told reporters yesterday. Read the full story here.

Julian Alaphilippe

(Image credit: Getty)

Kevin Besson has begun his effort and the 2022 Tour de la Provence is formally underway.

There has already been racing earlier today, with Fernando Gaviria outsprinting Mark Cavendish and Kaden Groves to win the opening stage of the Tour of Oman. You can read a stage report here and the reactions of Gaviria and his experienced lead-out man Max Richeze here.

Fernando Gaviria

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Patrick Bevin (Israel Premier Tech) was the second starter today and the New Zealander might well enjoy an early stint in the hot seat here. 

Bevin's teammate Sep Vanmarcke is also out on the 7.1km course. This is the Belgian's first race of 2022. After riding the four days here, he will line out at Ruta del Sol next week as he builds towards Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where he claimed the biggest victory of his career some ten years ago.

Bevin completes his 7.1km effort in 8:24 for an average speed of 50.7kph, which is enough to make him the very early provisional leader.

Vanmarcke hits the line in 8:35, 11 seconds down on Bevin and good enough for the second best time thus far.

Elia Viviani (Ineos) begins his effort. The Italian returned to Ineos this winter after stints at QuickStep and Cofidis. He was in action at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana last week, placing second on the final stage to Fabio Jakobsen. Viviani will be among the favourites for victory on tomorrow's opening road stage.

Elia Viviani Ineos Grenadiers 2022

(Image credit: Ineos Grenadiers)

Viviani's teammate Filippo Ganna is the man favoured to take the honours this afternoon in this short time trial. Ganna already showcased his ability with victory in the final time trial at Étoile de Bessèges on Sunday, though he will look to shine beyond the discipline this year. Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix are important rendezvous this spring, and then he makes his Tour de France debut in July. Stephen Farrand has more here.

Etoile de Besseges Tour du Gard 2022 52nd Edition 2nd stage SaintChristollesAles Rousson 156 km 03022022 Filippo Ganna ITA INEOS Grenadiers photo Roberto BettiniSprintCyclingAgency2022

(Image credit: Roberto BettiniSprintCyclingAgency)

A new best time at the finish from Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan), who comes home 5 seconds quicker than Bevin with a time of 8:19. The Italian claimed his first professional victory in the final race of 2021, when he won the inaugural Veneto Classic.

Veneto Classic 2021 1st Edition Venezia Bassano Del Grappa 2065 km 17102021 Samuele Battistella ITA Astana Premier Tech photo Roberto BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Israel Premier Tech) set out strongly, but he was forced to make a bike change and won't trouble the leaderboard. Viviani, meanwhile, rolls home 30 seconds down on Battistella.

Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar) crosses the finish line with the second best time so far. His 8:23 is 4 seconds down on Battistella. 

Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) rolls down the start ramp and accelerates immediately into his effort. 

New best time from Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ), who edges out Battistella by 2 seconds. 

Nairo Quintana begins his Tour de la Provence with a decent time. He comes home 18 seconds down on Ludvigsson, with an average speed of 49.6kph.

Dario Cataldo (Trek-Segafredo) stops the clock in 8:30, 13 seconds down on Ludvigsson's leading mark.

Time at finish

1          Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ    0:08:17.310

2          Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team 0:00:01.880

3          Mathias Norsgaard Jorgensen (Den) Movistar Team            0:00:05.750

4          Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel-Premier Tech      0:00:07.550

5          Valentin Ferron (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:00:11.740

6          Michele Gazzoli (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team         0:00:13.480

7          Dario Cataldo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  0:00:13.530

8          Maxime Bouet (Fra) Team Arkéa-Samsic    0:00:13.730

9          Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team           0:00:14.630

10        Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:15.390

 

Michael Storer is out on the course in his first competitive outing for Groupama-FDJ.  Patrick Fletcher spoke to him before the race and you can read the full interview here.

Michael Storer

(Image credit: Nicolas Götz / Equipe Cycliste Groupama-FDJ)

Defending Tour de la Provence champion Ivan Sosa sets off. He won the race a year ago for Ineos but, surprisingly, was left out of their Giro d'Italia squad and didn't ride any Grand Tour in 2022. He moved to Movistar this winter and acknowledged that his final season at Ineos had been 'complicated.' 

Tour de la Provence 2021 6th Edition 3rd stage AIstres Mont VentouxChalet Reynard 1539 km 13022021 Ivan Ramiro Sosa COL Ineos Grenadiers photo William Cannarella CVBettiniPhoto2021

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

17th best time for Storer, 22 seconds behind his teammate Ludvigsson. 

Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Trek-Segafredo) crosses the line 16 seconds down on Ludvigsson. The slight headwind in the finale is making the finishing straight feel interminable.

A very useful time from Louis Vervaeke, a new signing for QuickStep-AlphaVinyl. He crosses the finish line 9 seconds down on Ludvigsson.

Ivan Sosa concedes some 51 seconds to Ludvigsson over the 7.1km course - and, more pertinently, he has lost 34 seconds to Quintana, who looks to be setting himself up for an assault on final overall victory,

Time at finish

1          Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ     0:08:17.310

2          Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team 0:00:01.880

3          Mathias Norsgaard Jorgensen (Den) Movistar Team 0:00:05.750

4          Miguel Heidemann (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM 00:00:07.100

5          Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel-Premier Tech       0:00:07.550

6          Louis Vervaeke (Bel) QuickStep-AlphaVinyl           0:00:09.510

7          Pieter Serry (Bel) QuickStep-AlphaVinyl      0:00:11.530

8          Valentin Ferron (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:00:11.740

9          Michele Gazzoli (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team         0:00:13.480

10        Dario Cataldo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  0:00:13.530

Olympic champion Richard Carapaz (Ineos) is out on the course. The Ecuadorian missed the time trial at Etoile de Bessèges after his crash earlier in the race, but he will look to test himself over the 7.1km distance here. 

Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) will be in the mix for stage victory in the next two days and he puts in a useful time trial here, coming home 23 seconds down on Ludvigsson.

RIchard Carapaz (Ineos) crosses the line 25 seconds down on Ludvigsson. More pertinently, perhaps, that time puts him 7 seconds down on Quintana and 26 up on Ivan Sosa. 

Dries Devenyns (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) clocks an impressive time of 8:23, 6 seconds down on Ludvigsson and good enough for 4th place thus far. 

Time at finish

1          Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ     0:08:17.310

2          Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team 0:00:01.880

3          Mathias Norsgaard Jorgensen (Den) Movistar Team 0:00:05.750

4          Dries Devenyns (Bel) QuickStep-AlphaVinyl           0:00:05.790

5          Miguel Heidemann (Ger) B&B Hotels-KTM 00:00:07.100

6          Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel-Premier Tech       0:00:07.550

7          Louis Vervaeke (Bel) QuickStep-AlphaVinyl           0:00:09.510

8          Matteo Jorgensen (USA) Movistar Team      0:00:11.040

9          Pieter Serry (Bel) QuickStep-AlphaVinyl      0:00:11.530

10        Valentin Ferron (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:00:11.740

A decent effort from Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) in his final season as a professional. He clocks the 12th best time so far, 13 seconds down on Ludvigsson. 

British time trial champion Ethan Hayter (Ineos) has begun his effort and the youngster will be expected to go close to the mark of Tobias Ludvigsson. The man immediately after him, Ilan Van Wilder (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) will also set off with ambition.

Tobias Ludvigsson's time is proving resilient, however. Maciej Bodnar (TotalEnergies) has just completed the 7.1km and he, too, was unable to beat the Swede's mark. Bodnar crosses the line 4 seconds down with the third best time thus far. 

Ethan Hayter (Ineos) has looked very smooth throughout his effort and he has flashed past the finish line with a new best time. The Briton's mark of 8:16 is a secodn quicker than Ludvigsson. He averaged 51.5kph across the 7.1km course. 

Ilan Van Wilder comes in with the 9th best time, 8 seconds down on Hayter. Meanwhile, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) begins his effort.

We're deep into the final wave of starters. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) is the 10th last man down the start ramp. He will have designs on stage victory tomorrow but he is capable of clocking a decent time in a short effort like this.

Time at finish

1          Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers            0:08:16.910

2          Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ     0:00:00.400

3          Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team 0:00:02.280

4          Maciej Bodnar (Pol) TotalEnergies    0:00:04.960

5          Mathias Norsgaard Jorgensen (Den) Movistar Team 0:00:06.150

Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) is in the start house, ready to begin his effort. Already winner of the time trial at Etoile de Bessèges, he is the overwhelming favourite to take the honours today. The penultimatte man to start is Julian Alaphilippe, with Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) the final starter.

Pierre Latour falls just short of Hayter's time. He comes home in 4th place so far, 3 seconds down on the Briton.

Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) sets out, the last man down the start ramp.

Arnaud Demare begins his race with a time just inside the top 20, 13 seconds down on Hayter.

Alaphilippe cuts a tight line through some early corners. He may not be at 100% but he is clearly eager to put in a performance today all the same. Ganna, meanwhile, glides smoothly through the opening kilometres.

Ganna swoops around the final bend and he is looking on course to beat Hayter's time...

Filippo Ganna comes home in 8:04, 12 seconds up on Hayter at an average speed of 52.8kph. Surely Alaphilippe and Izagirre won't get close to that time...

Alaphilippe crosses the line in 7th place, 17 seconds down on the rampant Ganna. 

Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) wins stage 1 of the Tour de la Provence. Gorka Izagirre can't get close to his time, crossing the line some 30 seconds down.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 0:08:05
2Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:12
3Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:13
4Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team 0:00:14
5Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:00:15
6Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:00:17
7Maciej Bodnar (Pol) TotalEnergies 0:00:17
8Mathias Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team 0:00:18
9Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:00:19
10Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:00:19

Second placed Ethan Hayter: "I think for the first race of the season, it was a nice start. I could have gone a bit harder earlier, but I finished quited well. I wasn’t sure how the legs would be today, I think I could have gone a bit faster with more practice, but it was my first race. I was staying safe in training rather than pushing, so its quite different doing 60kph into the corners in a race." The Briton also revealed that he had COVID-19 last month and so has no GC ambitions here, given that he missed a little of the training he would have needed for a 15km ascent at this early point in the season.

BERRELTANG FRANCE FEBRUARY 10 Ethan Hayter of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers sprints during the 6th Tour De La Provence 2022 Prologue a 71km Individual Time Trial stage from Berreltang to Berreltang TDLP22 ITT on February 10 2022 in Berreltang France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Tour de la Provence 2022 7th Edition Prologue Berreltang Berreltang 71 km 10022022 Filippo Ganna ITA INEOS Grenadiers photo Roberto BettiniSprintCyclingAgency2022

(Image credit: Roberto Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency)

Filippo Ganna on his victory: "It’s nice to come back to Provence and to win again, my first victory with a WorldTour team was also here. It’s nice to win another time trial after Etoile de Bessèges. It’s a good start to the season and now we think of the next stages to improve and work well with the team, and we cross the fingers. We will see, tomorrow is a hard stage with a lot of wind. We will see, we will have to be ready."

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