Race report

Marc Hirschi 9th as sprinters do battle in La Provence opener

Tour de La Provence

The first day of racing at the Tour de La Provence saw the peloton take on an almost pan-flat 150 kilometre long stage from Châteaurenard to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. With the parcours suited to the sprinters a four-rider breakaway was quick to establish itself at the head of the race, with the peloton controlling the gap behind.

The vast open plains that the race crossed could potentially have caused splits if there were crosswinds throughout the afternoon but the calm conditions resulted in a relaxed day for the peloton. Once into the last 50 kilometres the gap to the foursome ahead had decreased to two minutes and the peloton slowly reeled them in as the race headed towards the finale.

It wasn’t an easy catch for the bunch and the breakaway put up a valiant effort, ultimately being caught with just over three kilometres to go. In the hectic battle for position, the team did well to keep leaders Marc Hirschi and Wilco Kelderman safe, with Hirschi sprinting to a ninth place finish at the line. Debutant Nico Denz also finished the stage strongly in 13th place.

After today’s flat stage, the bunch will be climbing tomorrow with a tricky hilltop finish on Les Crêtes set to decide the day.

“It was a pretty fast day but the wind was not really strong so it was a ‘classic’ bunch sprint day,” explained Hirschi after the stage. “The final was super hectic with a headwind in the last ten kilometres so it was quite a chaotic sprint in the end. I’m happy with my ninth place finish and the way that we rode as a team today.”

Team Sunweb coach Arjan Ribbers added: “It was a nice start to our European season. The guys showed good teamwork and communicated well throughout the stage. Our goal was to protect Marc and Wilco today, before going for as good as possible a result with Marc. The guys positioned Marc well in the front and he managed to come in ninth place in the bunch sprint finish.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 BOUHANNI Nacer Team Arkéa Samsic 3:16:35 20
2 MARECZKO Jakub CCC Team ,, 10
3 NIZZOLO Giacomo NTT Pro Cycling ,, 5
9 HIRSCHI Marc Team Sunweb ,, -
13 DENZ Nico Team Sunweb ,, -
22 OOMEN Sam Team Sunweb ,, -
46 SALMON Martin Team Sunweb ,, -
77 TUSVELD Martijn Team Sunweb ,, -
90 KELDERMAN Wilco Team Sunweb ,, -
116 HAGA Chad Team Sunweb ,, -