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Tour de la Provence stage 1 - Live coverage

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Filippo Ganna did what Filippo Ganna does on the opening day of the Tour de la Provence, cruising to a dominant victory in the prologue time trial in Berre-L'Étang. His Ineos Grenadiers teammate Ethan Hayter impressed with second place there and another comrade, Elia Viviani, is among the favourites for today's flat stage to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, which should lend itself to the sprinters. That said, the finale is on an exposed circuit on the coast with plenty of changes of direction. Splits and echelons are very much an occupational hazard on stage 1 of the Tour de la Provence. 

Today's start was very slightly delayed but the peloton is now in motion and making its way through the neutralised zone in Istres. The stage is 152km in length and the lone climb is the category 3 Col de la Vayède (2.34km at 3.7%), which comes after 28km.

General classification after prologue

1          Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 0:08:04

2          Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers            0:00:12

3          Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ     0:00:13

4          Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team     0:00:15

5          Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies     

6          Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team       0:00:17

7          Maciej Bodnar (Pol) TotalEnergies   

8          Mathias Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team      0:00:19

9          Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team          

10        Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team          0:00:20

11        Miguel Heidemann (Ger) B&B Hotels-KTM

12        Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel Start-Up Nation  

13        Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team           0:00:22

14        Alexis Gougeard (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM    

15        Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo      0:00:24

16        Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team     

17        Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team    

18        Raphael Parisella (Can) B&B Hotels-KTM  

19        Valentin Ferron (Fra) TotalEnergies  0:00:25

20        Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ          

Elia Viviani came close to victory in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and he knows today is a chance to get off the mark in his second coming at Sky/Ineos. His Ineos team also has Ethan Hayter as an option, of course, depending on how the race splits. "It’s going to be a busy start to the season but as a sprinter, we like that. The more chances we have, the better it is. I had a few close calls in Valencia so hopefully today can be a good day," Viviani said before the start. 

"For sure it won’t be an easy day with the wind but it’s a good chance for a sprinter. To be honest, we have just one real helper at this race, Salva [Salvatore Puccio – ed.] So Salva is going to have a lot of work to do this weekend. But we help each other too. Today is easy in terms of tactics. It’s just the first part to control and then the wind will make the difference, so it will be a stressful day. We won’t be leading all the day. We just need to be ready for action."

Asked whether Ineos' goal was to defend Ganna's overall lead or win the stage, Viviani was clear: "Win the race today."

Elia Viviani Ineos Grenadiers 2022

(Image credit: Ineos Grenadiers)

The temperature is a pleasant 15°C and the skies are clear over Istres. There isn't much wind either, but that might chance as the race passes through the Camargue later in the afternoon.

-152km

The flag drops and stage 1 of the Tour de la Provence is underway.

After an early flurry of attacks, Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur) have forced their way clear of the peloton and established a lead.

-147km

Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93) missed that train as it rolled away but now he's running along the platform, ticking flapping in the wind, and he might just be able to jump aboard before it leaves the station.

The five leaders already have a minute or so in hand on the peloton. Rossetto, meanwhile, is 15 seconds down, and not giving up on the idea of forming part of the day's early break. 

-143km

And then there were six. After a spirited chase, Rossetto joins the front group, which is now 1:40 clear of the peloton.

Situation

Break:

Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

Peloton at 1:40

The peloton is happy with the consitution of this break and the pace has relented accordingly. The leading sextet have pushed their buffer out to 3:20 in the opening kilometres.

-133km

The escapees are heading towards the day's lone climb, the Côte de la Vayède, with a lead now in excess of 4 minutes. 

Ethan Hayter's preparation for the 2022 season was interrupted when he tested positive for COVID-19 last month, but still started the new campaign on the front foot with a fine second place in yesterday's prologue time trial. “I’m happy, I only had two weeks of training since I had COVID,” he said. “It wasn’t my best performance, so I’m happy with second place and I’m still improving.” Read the full story here.

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)

Hayter's teammate Richard Carapaz is among the contenders for overall victory here, and he limited his losses in yesterday's time trial, placing 53rd at 38 seconds. More relevantly with Sunday's finale up the Montagne de Lure in mind, Carapaz lost 21 seconds to Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) and 7 seconds to 2020 winner Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), but he gained 26 seconds on defending champion Ivan Sosa (Movistar).

BELLEGARDESURVALSERINE FRANCE FEBRUARY 02 Richard Carapaz of Ecuador and Team INEOS Grenadiers reacts after cross the finishing line the 52nd toile De Bessges Tour Du Gard 2022 Stage 1 a 1608km stage from Bellegarde to Bellegarde 161m EtoiledeBesseges EDB2022 on February 02 2022 in BellegardesurValserine France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Carapaz also indicated yesterday that his plans for 2022 remain unchanged despite his teammate Egan Bernal's horrific training crash last month. Speaking at the Tour de la Provence, Carapaz outlined his intention to race the forthcoming Ecuadorian Championships, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya as he builds towards a return to the Giro, which he won in 2019. 

-127km

Our six leaders, meanwhile, are on the Côte de la Vayède. Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur) have extended their lead to some five minutes over the peloton.

Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole) beats Tristan Delacroix (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur) to the prime atop the Col de la Vayède, and he will wear the king of the mountains jersey tomorrow. 

-116km

Break:

Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

Peloton at 4:32

There has been a slight increase in urgency in the peloton over the past few kilometres, with Ineos and QuickStep-AlphaVinyl occupying the front positions. Julian Alaphilippe himself has hit the front, as has Filippo Ganna. The risk of echelons will only increase as the day draws on. 

-108km

That increase in speed has also swiftly knocked a minute off the break's lead, which now drops to 3:25.

Maciej Bodnar hits the front of the peloton for TotalEnergies and lines things out... Several teams are probing to see if the bunch might fracture on these exposed roads. 

-105km

All the while, clumps of the break's lead are coming loose. Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur) are now just 2:58 clear of the peloton.

 

A dozen or so riders have been wrongfooted by this injection of pace in the peloton and they have lost contact. They will need to sew this gap back up quickly or they could have a very, very trying afternoon ahead.

-103km

Break:

Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

 

Peloton at 2:48

-100km

The peloton is passing through Arles, and although there is no time even to cast a glance at the Roman amphitheatre and theatre, the urban space at least provides shelter from any wind, so there is a temporary détente in the bunch. The tension remains, however, and the race is heading for more exposed roads in the Camargue.

The escapees have come through Arles, and the swaying trees on the right-hand side of the road offer a visual indication of the conditions ahead. 

-98km

Break:

Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

 

Peloton at 2:17

-92km

Rolland, Rossetto et al are continuing to collaborate smoothly out in front, but their lead keeps contracting. The gap now stands at 2:09.

The bunch is fanned across the road as it negotiates a section of 45kph headwind, but the race could ignite when it reaches the finish in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for the first time and takes on the changes in direction in the finishing circuit.

There is a very sharp change in direction coming for the peloton in a kilometre or so, and that might provoke some pyrotechnics...

TotalEnergies lead into that sharp corner and delegations from QuickStep and Ineos are also moving up. Richard Carapaz is safely tucked on the wheel of Luke Rowe.

Filippo Ganna hits the front of the peloton with Elia Viviani on his wheel. The bunch is lining out again and if someone loses hold of the wheel in front of him, this bunch could splinter...

-83km

The peloton has split intop two or perhaps three groups thanks to that show of force from Ganna et al. Carapaz and Nairo Quintana are among the riders in the front group.

A rider from TotalEnergies crashed the front group around 20 or so wheels back. There is severe tension in the race at this point as Ineos continue to pile on the pressure in the bunch. Luke Rowe, Carapaz, Ganna, Viviani, Quintana, Alaphilippe, Bodnar and Sep Vanmarcke are among the men in this frontt part of the peloton, which contains perhaps 25 or so riders.

-81km

The break has 1:30 in hand on this elite group that contains the top four riders on GC as well as contenders like Quintana and Carapaz. Quintana looks as comfortable as one can be in a situation like this as he rolls through to take his turn on the front.

-78km

Ineos remain the principal drivers of this echelon, which has closed to within 39 seconds of the six leaders. Alaphilippe is also increasingly prominent as this echelons continues to shed some riders.

Ethan Hayter (Ineos), who began the day in second place overall, appears to be absent from this echelon, but Ineos still have four men in here with Ganna, Viviani, Carapaz and Rowe.

-76km

The Ganna-Alaphilippe-Quintana-Carapaz group of 25 or so riders is closing to within touching distance of the six early escapees. The rest of the race is scattered to the wind behind them.

-75km

The six-man break has been caught by the Ganna-Alaphilippe echelon. The pace is relentless. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) is among the notable riders to miss this crucial split.

-71km

The riders at the head of the race are: Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe, Ilan Van Wilder, Louis Vervaeke (QuickStep-AlpaVinyl), Elia Viviani, Filippo Ganna, Richard Carapaz, Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafred), Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan), Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Maciej Bodnar, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Sep Vanmarcke, Tom Van Asbroeck, Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Premier Tech), Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

A notable absentee from this front group is defending champion Ivan Sosa (Movistar), while his teammate Gorka Izagirre has abandoned after crashing a few kilometres ago. Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën) was also a faller and he, too, has abandoned the Tour de la Provence. 

-68km

Front echelon:

Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe, Ilan Van Wilder, Louis Vervaeke (QuickStep-AlpaVinyl), Elia Viviani, Filippo Ganna, Richard Carapaz, Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafred), Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan), Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Maciej Bodnar, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Sep Vanmarcke, Tom Van Asbroeck, Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Premier Tech), Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

Chasers at 1:05

-63km

Groupama-FDJ are leading the pursuit of the front echelon, but they aren't making any inroads into the deficit. The gap is stretching out, in fact, and now stands at 1:19.

Elia Viviani looks the obvious favourite for stage victory at this juncture, both because of his sprint pedigree and the presence of three Ineos teammates to help keep this group together. But there will surely be attacks in the finale once it becomes clear that the chasing peloton isn't coming back.

For the men with designs on overall victory, meanwhile, this is looking like a very successful day for Nairo Quintana, Richard Carapaz and Julian Alaphilippe, but there is still a long, long way to go this afternoon - and in conditions like this, late twists are a distinct possibility.

-57km

The gap between the front group and the rest of the peloton remains in place, despite the chasing efforts of Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ). 1:25 the gap.

-55km

And at that, Groupama-FDJ begin to claw back a few seconds, but one imagines the front group has more than enough firepower to hold off this rally from the pursuers. 1:14 the gap.

Groupama-FDJ are massed at the head of the peloton to lead the pursuit of the break, with Lewis Askey now taking up the reins on this section of tailwind. 

-52km

The break is drawing nearer the first of two passages through Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer before the finish. There is an intermediate sprint on each passage through the finish line, with 3 bonus seconds on offer.

-51km

The speed rises in the front group once again, with Ineos very prominent, and their lead edges out again towards 1:20.

-49km

Confirmation of the 27 riders in the front group, which is 1:20 clear of the peloton: Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe, Ilan Van Wilder, Louis Vervaeke (QuickStep-AlpaVinyl), Elia Viviani, Filippo Ganna, Richard Carapaz, Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafred), Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan), Damien Touzé, Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Nairo Quintana, Maxime Bouet, Lukasz Owsian (Arkéa-Samsic), Maciej Bodnar, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Sep Vanmarcke, Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Premier Tech), Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve, Cedric Beullens (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

 

-47km

The break passes through the finish line in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for the first time, where Julian Alaphilippe nips ahead to win the intermediate sprint and pick up 3 bonus seconds. 

Aurelien Paret-Peintre was second in that intermediate sprint, with Louis Vervaeke thrid across the line. The front group remains united and committed to its effort on the first of two laps of the finishing circuit. The Ineos delegation are keen to keep the pace high for Viviani and an eventual sprint, with Ganna very forceful indeed at the front. The gap to the main bunch, meanwhile, is back out to 1:26.

-43km

Break:

Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe, Ilan Van Wilder, Louis Vervaeke (QuickStep-AlpaVinyl), Elia Viviani, Filippo Ganna, Richard Carapaz, Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafred), Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan), Damien Touzé, Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Nairo Quintana, Maxime Bouet, Lukasz Owsian (Arkéa-Samsic), Maciej Bodnar, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Sep Vanmarcke, Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Premier Tech), Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve, Cedric Beullens (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

Peloton at 1:33

 

-40km

Into the final 40km. St-Michel-Auber 93 have joined Groupama-FDJ at the head of the peloton, but the gap to the leaders has edged back out to 1:34.

-36km

For the time being, there is clearly a convergence of interests in the front group of 27 riders. Ineos have the strength in numbers and the fastest man in Viviani, but their companions are all still happy to keep shouldering their share of the pace-setting. Groupama-FDJ and St-Michel-Auber 93's combined efforts are making no inroads into the gap, which now stands at 1:43

Race radio had previously identified the Movistar rider in the front group as Mattias Norsgaard but it seems that it is, in fact, Matteo Jorgensen.

-35km

Break:

Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe, Ilan Van Wilder, Louis Vervaeke (QuickStep-AlpaVinyl), Elia Viviani, Filippo Ganna, Richard Carapaz, Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafred), Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan), Damien Touzé, Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Nairo Quintana, Maxime Bouet, Lukasz Owsian (Arkéa-Samsic), Maciej Bodnar, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Sep Vanmarcke, Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Premier Tech), Stéphane Rossetto (St-Michel-Auber 93), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve, Cedric Beullens (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

Peloton at 1:48

 

Stephane Rossetto, a member of the early break, has been shaken loose from the front group after Ineos turn up the pressure through a section of crossswind. The gap to the bunch, meanwhile, has yawned out to 1:52.

-32km

Cofidis very belatedly come to the front of the peloton to help the chase and their tardiness appears to have stoked the exasperation of Groupama-FDJ. For a moment, it all feels vaguely like 1997, when there were half-hearted attempts at stoking a sort of Post v Raas-style rivalry between the nascent teams of Cyrille Guimard and Marc Madiot, who had bolstered their rosters with costly foreign signings - Maurizio Fondriest and Tony Rominger for Cofidis, Max Sciandri and Davide Rebellin for La Française des Jeux.

Back in the present day, the leading group of 26 riders is now more than two minutes clear of the bunch.

-28km

Break:

Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe, Ilan Van Wilder, Louis Vervaeke (QuickStep-AlpaVinyl), Elia Viviani, Filippo Ganna, Richard Carapaz, Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafred), Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan), Damien Touzé, Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Nairo Quintana, Maxime Bouet, Lukasz Owsian (Arkéa-Samsic), Maciej Bodnar, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Sep Vanmarcke, Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Premier Tech), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve, Cedric Beullens (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

Peloton at 2:02 

-25km

The opening road stage of the 2015 Tour de France in the Netherlands was an obvious exception, but for a pure climber, Nairo Quintana certainly has a knack of positioning himself well in echelons, and he is looking very smooth in this front group.

-23.5km

The front group enters Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for the second time, and it's a rather more full-blooded sprint for the bonus seconds this time around. Same result, as Julian Alaphilippe out-kicks Pierre Latour and Maxime Bouet. He's picked up 6 seconds in the overall standings on Carapaz and Quintana today.

-22km

Break:

Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe, Ilan Van Wilder, Louis Vervaeke (QuickStep-AlpaVinyl), Elia Viviani, Filippo Ganna, Richard Carapaz, Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafred), Samuele Battistella (Astana-Qazaqstan), Damien Touzé, Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Nairo Quintana, Maxime Bouet, Lukasz Owsian (Arkéa-Samsic), Maciej Bodnar, Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Sep Vanmarcke, Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Premier Tech), Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Viktor Verschaeve, Cedric Beullens (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM), Tristan Delacroix and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur)

Peloton at 2:12 

-21.5km

The front group splits as a rider lets a wheel go. Alaphilippe and the four Ineos riders were all safely in front. The group has reformed, but it's reminder that this is not going to be a straightforward procession to a group sprint...

-20km

A couple of riders have been distanced from the break following that split. Pierre Rolland looks to be among the men now missing from the front group, which enters the final 20km with 2:22 in hand on the peloton. 

-18km

Quintana's teammates Bouet and Owsian have been notable contributors to maintaining this front group's advantage. Alaphilippe's teammate Van Wilder and Vervaeke are also prominent, and it will be fascinating to see how the world champion attempts to outmanoeuvre the favourite Viviani in the finale. 

-16km

Tom Mainguenaud (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hôtels-KTM) and Jean Goubert (Nice Métropole Côte d'Azur) were the men distanced by this front group when it split a few kilometres ago. Meanwhile, the peloton's pursuit has completely petered out and the gap is out to 3:26. 

-15km

Some of the momentum has ebbed from the front group too, mind. It's been long evident that the stage honours would be decided by this group and a few riders are now beginning to miss turns and spare themselves for the finale.

-13km

The front group negotiates a section of headwind, but they swing right into a sector of crosswind shortly and that could trigger some late frissons...

-12km

Quintana has been well placed at every critical juncture and he is at the front again here with Bouet and Owsian.

For a man seemingly short of his best after time off the bike with COVID-19 last month, Julian Alaphilippe is pedalling very smoothly here and always towards the head of this group.

-10km

Into the final 10km for the leading group of 23. Elia Viviani is the clear favourite in the event of a sprint, but surely somebody will try to surprise the Ineos quartet. Opportunities to do so are limited for the time being, mind, as the race swings back into a headwind.

-9km

The front group spreads across the road. Nobody wants to take up the reins just now, and there is a sense that this is the calm before the storm. Richard Carapaz eventually comes to the front to make sure things keep ticking over. 

-8km

A cross-tailwind for the front group as Carapaz continues to lead the way before Bodnar accelerates and opens a small gap...

Maciej Bodnar (TotalEnergies) has 20 metres or so, with Richard Carapaz leading the pursuit for Ineos.

-7km

Julian Alaphilippe kicks and sets off in lone pursuit of Bodnar... Ganna leads the chase in the group behind...

Ganna rapidly brings back Alaphilippe, but Bodnar is still out in front...

-6km

Ganna is doing the bulk of the work on the front of the group, with occasional turns from Luke Rowe and Carapaz, but Bodnar is stoutly defending his advantage...

-5km

A fine effort from Bodnar, who has 8 seconds in hand on his Ineos pursuers...

-4km

Bodnar's lead is 6 seconds with 3km to go

They're closing the gap to Bodnar but he refuses to give in.

Will Ineos have anything left for the sprint and to lead out Viviani? 

Last kilometre!

Gruppo compatto after another massive turn from Ganna.

But Carapaz is dropped. does that blow Ineos' overall hopes?

Sprint! 

Viviani wins the sprint! 

Sep Vanmarcke (Israel-Premier Tech) was second and Alaphilippe third. 

See more

This is the stage result

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Elia Viviani (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 3:17:58
2Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation
3Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
4Martijn Tusveld (Ned) Team DSM
5Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
6Cedric Beullens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo
8Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies
9Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
10Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team

That was a hard and fast day of racing, with Ineos flexing their collective muscles.

The peloton finished several minutes behind after giving up the chase with 25km to go. Groupama-FDJ did much of the work, with Cofidis coming up far too late to make a difference.

This is the new top ten overall. 

General classification after stage 1
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 3:26:05
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:00:04
3Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:00:10
4Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team 0:00:12
5Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:00:17
6Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:21
7Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
8Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
9Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel-Premier Tech 0:00:22
10Maxime Bouet (Fra) Arkea-Samsic 0:00:23

Here's Ganna in the black leader's jersey, with Viviani on his wheel, before he helped explode the peloton.

LES SAINTESMARIESDELAMER FRANCE FEBRUARY 11 Elia Viviani of Italy and Team INEOS Grenadiers competes during the 6th Tour De La Provence 2022 Stage 1 a 1593km stage from Istres to Les SaintesMariesdelaMer TDLP22 on February 11 2022 in Les SaintesMariesdelaMer France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Elia Viviani on his victory: "It was not an easy flat stage because of the wind. We moved really well, we have a really experienced guy for this from the Classics in Luke Rowe. When we saw we were four in front, so Richie was with us also for GC, we kept pushing all the day. When also we saw there was no sprinter in front, we were happy with that. I felt a bit of pressure but the guys did an amazing job. Ganna closed the gap on Bodnar and the dangerous attacks in the last few k and Luke Rowe did a perfect lead-out for me, so thanks to all the team for a really good job today."

LES SAINTESMARIESDELAMER FRANCE FEBRUARY 11 Elia Viviani of Italy and Team INEOS Grenadiers cduring the 6th Tour De La Provence 2022 Stage 1 a 1593km stage from Istres to Les SaintesMariesdelaMer TDLP22 on February 11 2022 in Les SaintesMariesdelaMer France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

More from Viviani on his first victory since rejoining Ineos: "I think it’s not so much about [the first win with] the new team, but for sure I’m happy. I finished last season really well with Cofidis and that was important to start the new season. For sure I’m happy to be back with Ineos and it’s really important for a sprinter to win at the start of the season. From Valenciana we knew I had good condition – 2nd, 3rd, 4th – and now I’ve come here to Provence with the big goal of winning my first race of the year. Now that’s done and we keep going. I think we want to try [tomorrow] but we have also a Plan B in case I’m dropped because Ethan Hayter is fast and he can sprint. But for sure I want to try because my legs feel good."

LES SAINTESMARIESDELAMER FRANCE FEBRUARY 11 Elia Viviani of Italy and Team INEOS Grenadiers celebrates at podium as stage winner after the 6th Tour De La Provence 2022 Stage 1 a 1593km stage from Istres to Les SaintesMariesdelaMer TDLP22 on February 11 2022 in Les SaintesMariesdelaMer France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tour de la Provence 2022 7th Edition 1st stage Istres Les Saintes Maries de la Mer 1518 km 11022022 Elia Viviani ITA INEOS Grenadiers photo Roberto BettiniSprintCyclingAgency2022

(Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

Thanks for following today's live coverage of the Tour de la Provence. We'll be back with more from stage 2 tomorrow. In the meantime, you can find a full report, results and pictures from today's stage here.

Tour de la Provence 2022 - 7th Edition - 1st stage Istres - Les Saintes Maries de la Mer 151,8 km - 11/02/2022 - Filippo Ganna (ITA - INEOS Grenadiers) - photo Roberto Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

(Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

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