Ryan Gibbons takes sprint victory on stage one of men's virtual Tour de France

The South African beat Mathieu van der Poel and Greg Van Avermaet to victory on the opening day

Ryan Gibbons won the first stage of the virtual Tour de France, beating the likes of Mathieu van der Poel and Greg Van Avermaet in the sprint finish.

A number of attacks peeled off into the final few hundred metres, with Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (CCC) hitting out first before Edvald Boasson - Hagen (NTT) made his charge for the line.

The Norwegian was then overtaken by team-mate Gibbons, sweeping through the field with Van Avermaet chasing, but the South African had timed his attack well, finishing with daylight between him and his opponents.

Rally's Pier-Andre Cote finished second, with Mitchelton-Scott's Nick Schultz third. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) then came in fourth, with Aussie Freddy Ovett (Israel Start-Up Nation) rounding out the top five.

The first stage took in four laps of the 9.1km Watopia hilly reverse course, totalling just over 36km.

Stage one of the virtual Tour de France

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg had attacked with 7km, taking the final sprint points ahead of Harry Sweeney, as Mitchelton-Scott held just a one-point lead over NTT in the overall classification.

Van der Poel was near the front on the final climb as Boasson Hagen put out nearly 600W to stay in contact with the front group up the final ascent of the climb, the elastic snapping just behind him as Ineos' Pavel Sivakov pushed the pace at the front.

Kwiatkowski then took over from his Russian team-mate, before Boasson-Hagen moved to the front and Schultz then lead over the final climb, with Gibbons coming up with the goods after the descent into the finish.

Gibbons' stage victory helped his NTT team to first in the overall classification of the virtual Tour de France, taking just a one-point lead over Rally into stage two, with Alpecin-Fenix seven points further back in third.

Result

Virtual Tour de France, stage one: Watopia (36.4km)

1. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) NTT, in 45-17

2. Pier-Andre Cote (Can) Rally, at same time

3. Nick Schultz (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at one second

4. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix

5. Freddy Ovett (Aus) Israel Start-Up Nation

6. Edvald Boason Hagen (Nor) NTT

7. Matteo Dal-Cin (Can) Rally

8. Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto-Soudal

9. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC, all at one second

10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos, at 2s

General classification standings after stage one

1. NTT (RSA) - 80 points

2. Rally (Can) - 79 points

3. Alpecin-Fenix (Bel) - 72 points

Jonny Long

Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.


Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).


I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.