Alexander Kristoff fights to huge sprint victory after nightmare stage one of Tour de France 2020

Awful weather battered the peloton and caused dozens of crashes throughout the opening day

Alexander Kristoff fought hard to a huge sprint victory on stage one of the Tour de France 2020, after a nightmare day for the peloton.

The skies poured down on riders for the opening day of racing around Nice, with countless riders hitting the tarmac in wet and treacherous conditions.

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But after the peloton decided to neutralise the middle section of the race, the sprint teams took on the charge in the closing kilometres.

Into the final kilometre the sprint favourites were still at the front of the bunch, with Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) the favourite for the win.

As the sprint opened up, Bennett was late to jump as Cees Bol (Sunweb) looked dangerous and hit the front of the race.

Bol faded rapidly as Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) fired past on the right hand side of the road, with world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) close behind.

Kristoff’s victory means he takes the race lead for stage two and will wear the first yellow jersey of his career.

How it happened 

The first stage of the 2020 Tour de France looked to be an unpredictable day of racing, covering a lumpy 156km starting and finishing in Nice.

Riders would set off from the famous Promenade des Anglais on the coast and head inland to take on a challenging climb multiple times before finishing back on the seafront.

The major climb of the day was the category three Cote de Rimiez (5.7km-long at 5.1 per cent) which appeared twice at 48km and again at 100km.

After the second ascent of the climb, the peloton would continue up to Aspremont then on to another crest at Levens before the rapid descent back down to sea level, which ended at 129km.

Then it was a 30km flat-out downhill run to the finish line, which was a pure drag race to the line. 

Before the stage there were questions about which sprinters would make it over the climbs with the legs to contest the finish, but as the heavens the discussion turned to which riders would make it through the day without crashing.

As soon as the flag dropped the action started as three riders attacked and were instantly allowed to maintain a gap, as Michael Schar (CCC Team), Fabian Grellier and Cyril Gautier made up the day’s breakaway.

That trio maxxed out their advantage at around three minutes before the peloton began to reel them back.



Over the next 100km of racing, the skies clouded over and heavy rain began to batter the peloton and made the roads treacherously slick.

Amongst those caught in crashes were Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) who crashed multiple times while trying to rejoin the peloton. Countless others also fell in the racing. 

>>> Watch Nairo Quintana’s rapid recovery after crash in awful weather during Tour de France 2020 stage one  

Eventually the breakaway trio were all swept up by the bunch with just under 60km left to the line, as the main body of riders decided to cruise the middle section of the race to avoid further crashes

On the final descent from Levens, Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) gestured to slow and the race was unofficially neutralised by the riders, that is until Astana opted to up the pace and string out the race, which ended abruptly when Miguel Ángel López lost the wheel on a corner, kept the bike upright but went wide on a turn and hit a road sign headfirst.

López was uninjured by the crash resulted in some stern words from Jumbo-Visma towards the Astana riders. 

The race didn’t fire up again until inside 20km, when the sprint teams decided to up the pace on the flats heading back towards the coast, with Deceuninck, Jumbo-Visma and NTT Pro Cycling taking on the work to set up the sprint. 

At exactly the 3km mark, a huge crash blew up around half way through the peloton which brought down the likes of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and multiple others.

Shortly before the crash the organisers had announced that GC times will automatically be taken from the 3km mark however, so no overall contenders lost time in the fall. 

Into the final kilometre Bennett and Quick-Step were too far back and had to make up a lot of ground, as Trek-Segafredo led the bunch for the world champion.

Quick-Step then hit the front with just over 200m from the line on the left of the road, but it was Cees Bol who got the best early sprint and went to the front.

Bol didn’t have the legs however, as Kristoff then launched his move and powered clear with Pedersen left to take second, while Bol held on for third. 

Kristoff now moves into the race lead and takes the first yellow jersey of his career. 

The Tour de France 2020 continues on stage two with a big day of climbing around Nice, with 186km of racing including two first category climbs, a second category climb and a final uncategorised ramp 20km from the line.  

Results

Tour de France 2020, stage one: Nice to Nice (156km)

1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates, in 3-46-23
2. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
3. Cees Bol (Ned) Sunweb
4. Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
8. Bryan Cocquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept p/b KTM
9. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, all at same time

General classification after stage one

1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates, in 3-46-13
2. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 4 seconds
3. Cees Bol (Ned) Sunweb, at 6s
4. Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 10s
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
8. Bryan Cocquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept p/b KTM
9. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, all at same time