Wilco Kelderman survived the tough opening stage of Paris – Nice to finish in the front peloton on the same time as the day’s winner in a race hit by strong winds making for a nervous day in the saddle. Michael Matthews and Martijn Tusveld were unfortunately not so lucky with both riders crashing and having to abandon the race.
The stage got off to a fairly steady start under threatening skies and an already strong wind blowing, giving the stage an ominous feel to it from the off. Three riders broke clear after just a few kilometres and that was to be the day’s breakaway. The first sign of echelons came with around 100km to go as the front of the race started to split before coming back together but it was a sign of things to come, and with pressure being piled on Michael hit the deck with just under 80km to race and was not able to continue the stage.
Rain was added to the mix from here too as the gap decreased under the impetus of the chasing peloton which gradually thinned down to a final group of around 60 riders, much less at times as echelons split and reformed throughout the day.
The junction at the front of the race was made with 41km to go, and not long after Martijn hit the deck and was also unable to continue leaving just five Team Sunweb riders left in the race. Alone in the select front group, Wilco did what he could to stay out of trouble and finished the day in 37th, on the same time as the winner of the reduced bunch sprint.
To add to the team’s injuries, Roy Curvers hit a pole with his hand during the stage and although he was able to finish the stage, the injury is also being assessed. Michael and Martijn are receiving further medical checks to assess their injuries and more information will follow.