Tour de France Stage 1: Win & Yellow for Kristoff

After a stage of many crashes, Alexander Kristoff won the first bunch sprint of the 2020 Tour de France beating world champion Mads Pedersen and Cees Bol. It’s Kristoff’s fourth stage win in the Tour de France & the second Norwegian to take the yellow jersey after Thor Hushovd

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Tour de France Stage 1: Win & Yellow for Kristoff

Alexander Kristoff of UAE Team Emirates won the first bunch sprint of the 2020 Tour de France on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, beating world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Cees Bol (Team Sunweb). It’s his fourth stage win in the Tour de France after two in 2014 and the conclusive stage in Paris in 2018. The 33 year old is the second Norwegian to take the yellow jersey after Thor Hushovd.

Kristoff: “I couldn’t dream of a better start. This is a dream come true with not only the stage win I was aiming for but also the yellow jersey. In the last kilometre, I was alone but I felt strong and I was sitting on Peter Sagan’s wheel for a long time. I still had the legs to finish it off even though my run in to the Tour de France hadn’t been great. I crashed a few days ago. It’s an amazing moment for me at the age of 33. It means a lot for my career and my kids.”

“It’s a dream to wear the yellow jersey, I don’t think you can ask for anything better. The team came here to aim for the General Classification and some sprint stages. I was hoping, but I didn’t think I would win so early . Today I was riding well and I was able to give my best on the final straight, realizing that I was in the frame for a win.

I stayed in the wheels for a while, coming out on the right in the final and, when I realized it was the right moment, I pushed hard. In the past few months I haven’t been able to give my best and I also crashed at the European Championships, so being here celebrating is a great feeling.”

Mads Pedersen: “It was pretty hard actually. This is my first Tour, so I actually realized today that the average speed is quite high the whole day. The peloton stuck together as a unit today and took it easy on the tricky downhills.”

“On the bike you could actually see how much oil was on the road so it was nice to see the peloton stand together and decide to [descend] together and start racing again at the bottom.”

“For me to finish second was super nice, the boys did a really good leadout, but I lost them a little bit. Now that I know I was this close, I would have really liked to make the win, but I think I can be happy with a second place. Of course, I’m racing to win so I’m a little disappointed, but I can also be happy.”

“It’s super nice to start my first Tour, the only thing I could hope for more was obviously the win. I’m happy with how the boys did the sprint for me today and how we’re going together.”

Connor Swift (Arkea Samsic): “It was a stressful day! I love the rain, I’m happy when the roads are wet because a lot of people don’t like it. The team was strong, there was cohesion. We rode at the head of the race before the difficulties of the day.”

“Then there were many falls. Kevin fell, but luckily nothing was broken. It was a crazy day for my first day on the Tour de France. I am satisfied with my condition, with my legs. Despite everything, I enjoyed this race and lived this experience. We talked to Clément in the end. He helped me in the sprint but Yvon Ledanois told me not to take any risks. I tried to compete in this sprint while keeping in mind to stay “safe” and end the day without a crash. ”

Cees Bol (Sunweb): “In hindsight maybe it was a bit too early but I really got to sprint full gas for the line, and Kristoff was just faster,” explained Bol at the finish. “Overall I’m actually really happy to be in the mix and the confidence grows because of this. In the last kilometres my team did a really good job to support me and we were always in a good position and safe.

For sure a sprint is always hectic, but with the support of my team it was not too crazy. I’m not too disappointed with third but it’s a bit of a mixed feeling; it’s my first race in a long time but it’s my first podium at the Tour de France. I think now already we can look back on some things that we can do better and I think we’ll be close more often in the coming sprints.”

Luke Rowe: “I think the problem was just the fact that it literally hasn’t rained here for two or three months – then you get one day where it rains and it’s literally like ice. I think most teams have at least half their rider who have touched down today. We’ve had a couple but luckily we’ve passed through.”

“We’ve got a riders organisation and there’s a couple of guys from each team in there. We spoke last night about how we’re going to approach the Tour de France in general, look after each other and do the right thing when it’s needed. And whilst you want to race and put on the best show, at the same time you could see just how many crashes there were and that was with the three descents being ridden at a very careful speed.”

Sam Bennett “It was a dangerous day with the roads being very slippery. I tried to do my best and stay safe, but in the final I didn’t make the best decision. When Michael went, I let another rider slot in thinking he will go early, but that didn’t happen, so I dropped the speed and had to accelerate again, but it was too late. It’s a pity, because I had good legs, but I’m confident other opportunities will come next week.”

Tony Martin, who was always in the front, decided during a dangerous part of the stage to calm his colleagues in the peloton. “I felt that I had to take responsibility. Not just for our own team, but for all riders. Fortunately, all teams agreed. The roads were very slippery and dangerous”, Der Panzerwagen explained.

Wout van Aert also crashed, but without major consequences. “Fortunately, Tom and Primoz stayed out of trouble. We were well ahead throughout the race. Furthermore, it was really crazy on some parts of the course. It was very slippery and a lot of riders crashed. At a certain point there was some solidarity in the peloton and we took it a bit easier. Tony’s move to calm the peloton was more than justified in my view. In the end I was too scared to sprint. That’s why I didn’t get involved.”

Michael Schär (CCC): Most combative rider “It wasn’t really the plan to go in the breakaway but we had a plan to be active at the start. I was looking for bigger groups but I followed the first move and that was the one that stuck. I knew the rain would make it unpredictable racing and it wasn’t easy with the downhills. I was actually feeling very comfortable, very confident with my tires and my tire pressure was perfect.”

“I could see the peloton wasn’t giving us any margin so the only thing to go for was the KOM jersey. I misjudged the first climb and did a bad sprint and the second one, I won. Then I thought it would be possible to have it but because we were on the same points, we had to sprint to the finish line to be the first over the line to get the jersey.”

“This is something I don’t like to do because I was in the spill with the sprinters in the worst possible position where the mess starts. With 3km to go, they went down and Colbrelli went down hard in front of me and I could brake but it was so slippery so my wheel went sideways and I went over my handle bars. I have almost no bruises but my rip is hurting now so we will see tomorrow.”

Matteo Trentin (CCC): “Living here, I knew it would be super dangerous with the rain but for the first time in history riders got together and we rode down pretty easy, not taking any risk. We asked the jury to put everyone on the same time so the sprint could be a little bit less dangerous. I was feeling pretty good today.

The sprint was super chaotic and I took a bad a decision in the last kilometer to be on the left side. I was quite far back and they closed the door so I had to go to the right. It’s only the first day and the legs are good and we finished the first day without any big issues. That’s the most important thing.”

Greg Van Avermaet (CCC): “Everybody was quite nervous for day one. It was a good stage on paper it seemed like there was not so much rain in the area for a long time as the roads were super slippery, so this made it super dangerous.

Luckily we had Michi in the front to get the most aggressive rider award and almost the KOM jersey. But the most important thing was staying upright. There was a decision made by the riders to take it easy in the descent and still have the sprint finish for the victory, which was a good decision I think.

I was safe, but I was also quite often really lucky to not go down. In the end, it was a good decision because we’ve all prepared a long time for this and it’s not the moment to already lose half the peloton because of crashes.”

Giacomo Nizzolo NTT: It was a stressful day with the rain and many, many crashes. In the end I could manage to get back to the bunch and I actually felt great in the sprint. It’s a pity I couldn’t sprint actually, to find a place (position) to deliver to the power that I felt but sometimes in a sprint it is a lottery so I’m super happy about how Im feeling, not about the result but ‘we have more stages to come.

Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT): (14th) “It was pretty sketchy on the downhill, all the corners were really slippery, I guess it hasn’t rained here for a while. On the last climb there was a big split, it was actually good for us, we were all in front, then we decided together that we’d neutralise the descent, so everyone came back.

“We always knew it was going to be a bunch sprint, I just tried to do my own thing. I knew it was going to be very chaotic in the end, with all the sprinters there.

“Jack actually came to the front way too early because he thought we were inside the last kilometre, but we were inside the last two kilometres. Then I was left there with 500 metres to go and they came around me double the speed.”

Matt White (Head Sports Director (Mitchelton-SCOTT)): “It was pretty stressful for the guys, pretty slippery conditions and in the end, it was a pretty straightforward sprint after a fair bit of the stage was neutralised. I think the UCI made a good decision to stop the times at three kilometres to go. It was really slippery today and when the yellow jersey is on the line there’s a little bit of extra stress too. Luka was probably a little bit too close to the front inside the last kilometre, but because he is surfing the wheels he has to take gambles and sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don’t.”

Stefan Kung: It started raining and it was like riding on ice. More than half of the peleton went down at least once today… Thanks to all the rider for being reasonable and staying safe in the last downhill where a lot of oil was on the road!

The Stage

There was a peloton of 176 riders who took to the start of the 107th Tour de France in Nice. Michael Schär (CCC), Cyril Gautier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Fabien Grellier (Total Direct Energie) rode away from the peloton right after the flag dropped. They reached the finishing line for the first passage after 38.5km with an advantage of 2’40″ over the peloton that was having many a problem with crashes. That included a crash involving top sprinter Sam Bennett.

…. continued after the advert.

His team-mate Julian Alaphilippe also slipped on a wet downhill at km 65 and had to fight his way back afterwards while Russian rookie Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadier) struggled for a while at the back after a serious crash, one of two on the day.

After the roads seemingly were unridable in the wet, Tony Martin took control at the front and slowed the peloton down. But Sivakov crashed again after he made it across and there were more crashes that affected top sprinters Caleb Ewan and Giacomo Nizzolo. Grellier was the first breakaway rider to get reeled in.

Schär and Gautier who passed the côte de Rimiez in that order were caught at km 98. The regrouped peloton slowed down due to the rainy conditions and slippery roads. It enabled Nizzolo and Caleb Ewan to come back. Astana broke the gentleman agreement as Omar Fraile sped up in a downhill only for his teammate Miguel Angel Lopez to lose control of his bike and bumped into a traffic sign. The Colombian got back on using a teammates bike.

The peloton rode slowly until Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale) launched an attack with 22km to go. He got reeled in 13km before the end. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) was caught in a crash with 3km to go where the times were taken. It was a 5km long straight line on the Promenade des Anglais. Kristoff had no lead out but he followed Peter Sagan before he timed his effort to perfection to give no chance to Pedersen and Bol to overtake him.

Peter Sagan: “It was a very hard stage with a crazy finale. The last 5km were all the way headwind, the bunch was very nervous, a big mess. Sprints like this one with headwind are always a lottery and I think you also need good luck at times.”

Emanuel Buchmann “Staying safe wasn’t an easy task today, it was extremely dangerous and slippery and nearly half the peloton crashed. The team did a very good job throughout the stage and I finished safely, which was the key point. I come to the Tour de France after a crash at the Dauphiné but the pace wasn’t very high today, so you could say I was in good shape. Most importantly, I didn’t feel any pain in my hips.”

Miguel Angel Lopez (GC fav): “We saw many crashed today on a quite dangerous parcourse. There were many tricky places on the distance and the stage was a bit nervous. The rain did this stage really hard. On the second lap I crashed down on the descent, hitting the road sign, but, fortunately, I did not get any serious injury. It could be much worse. Anyway, I was able to finish the race and now I want to recover as well as possible as tomorrow we will have another difficult stage”

Fabien Grellier: (King of the Mountains after stage 1) “We knew there was a risk of a stormy weather so we started stage 1 with the appropriate tubulars. However, it seldom rains in this region so the road quickly turns slippery.”

“I crashed towards the end of the stage but I’m not seriously injured. It’s enormous to wear the polka dot jersey at the Tour de France. I’m proud of that. I looked for the breakaway with that goal in mind. At the end, I had to do the best possible sprint to be ahead of Michael Schär on the finishing line. I pushed myself because sprinting isn’t exactly my forte. Only five minutes after I crossed the line, I got to know that I was ahead of him. I took it as an excellent news.”

Israel Start-Up Nation: Three of our riders that crashed today during the 1st stage of the TDF: Ben Hermans ( wrist), Andre Greipel and Nils Politt. We are relieved to report after receiving the x rays results. All three riders suffered from hard bruises but NOTHING broken. All will start tomorrow.

Carlos Verona (Movistar): “What an unlucky day! We hadn’t suffered any rain at races during the summer and we suffered these first storms right at the start of the most nervous event of the year. The roads were really dangerous with this rain, to be honest – you could even see riders falling at that final descent, when we were riding so calmly.

I think the peloton acted with common sense when they decided to ease up into the final sections. The organisers also decided to take the GC times with 3km to go, because it was so dangerous. It wasn’t the start we planned or would have hoped to have, but at least we could all make it to the finish.

We hope Rojas and Marc, those with most abrasions with the final crashes, can recover well, that’s the most important thing now. I had never seen a peloton so serious about each other’s safety as I did today – it might be down to the accidents we’ve experienced lately. Chapeau to the people in the bunch, because the roads were just impossible today.”

Imanol Erviti (Movistar): “What a start! It doesn’t usually rain in this area, but when it does, you can see the effects it brings. The crosswalk with 3km was a problem – as the peloton went past before the final lap, some rider lost control of his bike, and then at the end, the peloton crashed again. Other than Enric and Alejandro, we all went down, just like myself. I was trying to bridge back when the peloton decided to stop, so I can’t describe the actual situation, but I feel like going easier there was the most sensible thing; the ‘track’ was in really bad condition.”

1. Alexander Kristoff, UAE Team Emirates 03:46:23
2. Mads Pedersen, Trek-Segafredo
3. Cees Bol, Team Sunweb
4. Sam Bennett, Deceuninck-Quick Step
5. Peter Sagan, Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Elia Viviani, Cofidis
7. Giacomo Nizzolo, NTT Pro Cycling Team
8. Bryan Coquard, B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
9. Anthony Turgis, Total Direct Energie
10. Jasper Stuyven, Trek-Segafredo

18. Connor Swift, Team Arkea-Samsic
19. Caleb Ewan, Lotto Soudal
31. Jack Bauer, Mitchelton-Scott
35. Wout Van Aert, Team Jumbo – Visma
39. Primoz Roglic, Team Jumbo – Visma
43. Tom Dumoulin, Team Jumbo – Visma
44. Richard Carapaz INEOS Grenadiers
45. Egan Bernal INEOS Grenadiers

60. Nairo Quintana Team Arkea-Samsic
61. Fabio Aru UAE Team Emirates
86. Hugh Carthy EF Pro Cycling
93. Rigoberto Uran EF Pro Cycling
96. Bauke Mollema Trek-Segafredo
107. Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck-Quick Step
116. Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott
118. Daniel Martin Israel Start-Up Nation
133. Luke Rowe INEOS Grenadiers
144. Thibaut Pinot Groupama-FDJ
172. Pavel Sivakov INEOS Grenadiers @ 13:04

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