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Postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tour de France started well on Saturday in Nice. The Norwegian Alexander Kristoff won the first stage marked by many crashes and won the first yellow jersey.

The Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (UAE Emirates) won in the sprint on Saturday 29 August, in Nice, the first stage of the Tour de France, enamelled by a succession of falls on a very slippery road.

The 33-year-old rider donned the first yellow jersey of this edition which started in a heavy health context, with compulsory mask and access restriction for the public.

An ice rink

The rain turned the road into an ice rink in places and caused many falls or slips on the very oily pavement, especially after the long dry summer on the Côte d’Azur.

Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, among the favorites of the event, was notably caught in a massive fall that occurred less than 3 kilometers from the line. The jersey torn at the level of the right shoulder showing some bruises, he reached the finish with his teammates, without wasting time but with a dark face. The lap times were indeed neutralized as they passed the last three kilometers, following a decision of the jury which acceded to the request of the runners warned by falls during the first two passages on the Promenade des Anglais.

A stage that will leave traces

Behind the breakaway of three riders (Gautier, Grellier, Schär) formed at the start of the race, the peloton rolled on eggshells. Several team leaders found themselves caught, including Julian Alaphilippe, Australian Richie Porte and Colombian Nairo Quintana, without too much apparent gravity. On the other hand, Pavel Sivakov, one of the mountain lieutenants of the outgoing winner Egan Bernal, fell twice for his discovery of the Tour. Hit on both sides, bloody elbows, the young Russian sailed behind the race.

After the end of the breakaway, the peloton, urged to be cautious by all these misadventures, observed a truce at the entrance of the last 60 kilometers while several sprinters (Nizzolo and, further behind, Ewan) were left behind.

This de facto neutralization, with several riders on the front row and the German Tony Martin leading the operation, was almost interrupted by the Astana team 46 kilometers from the finish which began to accelerate in a descent. A few turns later, the fall of its leader, Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez, who swerved and hit a traffic sign, put an end to this daring move.

Despite the general slowdown in a relaxed field, New Zealander George Bennett, one of Slovenian Primoz Roglic’s teammates, also fell on the last descent and was hit in a shoulder.

This strange stage ended in the last 20 kilometers, after an attempt by Benoît Cosnefroy. In the sprint, Alexander Kristoff clearly edged the world champion, Dane Mads Pedersen, and Dutchman Cees Bol, to take his fourth stage victory in the Tour. He donned the first yellow jersey on the eve of the first passes of the Tour in the hinterland of Nice.

With AFP

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