In his first races since the end of April, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) surprised most onlookers by getting into a two man breakaway on the first stage of the Route du Sud.
The Colombian said he wanted to test his legs ahead of stage four’s mountain extravaganza, but also to get some hard work in his legs ahead of the Tour de France.
It was a good stage to break away on, with a series of climbs right from the drop of the flag. Two uncategorised ascents were followed by the category two climb of Col des Thérondels and then the Cote de la Glévade 50km later.
With the final 100km virtually flat, Quintana and breakaway companion Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r La Mondiale) didn’t make it to the finish line, with Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) beating Arnaud Démare (FDJ) in the final sprint.
But the day wasn’t in vain for the two-time Tour de France runner up, as he collected the combativity award at the end of the stage and was awarded a basket of fruit by two quite uninterested men and a beaming woman.
The Movistar boys will look forward to tucking into that basket tonight…