Race report

Punchy hill-top finish in race opener

Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var

Photo Credit: Cor Vos

The team returned to stage racing in France today at the opening stage of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. Faced with over 3500 metres of climbing throughout the stage that culminated with a triple ascent of the Col de Gourdon (14 kilometres at 4 percent), it was sure to be a tough day out in the saddle.

An opening flurry of attacks, with the team present in several of them, in the first 20 kilometres of the stage eventually saw a five rider breakaway establish itself at the head of the race. With all of the team in the peloton, attention switched to staying safe and conserving energy for the difficult final 70 kilometres, as the bunch chipped away at the leaders’ advantage which peaked at almost six minutes. The gap to those ahead continued to fall as the peloton made its way over the first two ascents of Col de Gourdon, with the race all back together as the bunch charged down the descent and into the final ten kilometres, with the team riding well together to get Martijn Tusveld and Michael Storer into a good position for the finale.

On the ascent to the line, more attacks flew from the bunch and an incredibly fast tempo was set at the head of the race. A small group of riders ultimately came to the finish together, with Storer the first across the line for the team in a cluster of riders just behind those at the head of the race.

Photo Credit: Patrick Brunt

“It was the debut race for three of our riders today but we all rode well together throughout the stage,” explained Storer. “The race was tricky with hills, twisty roads and street furniture. The climb on the final circuit made the peloton smaller but it was still a large group heading into the final kilometre. I just missed that finish kick, but it is good to get the first race day done with the team in 2021. We’ll keep working hard together in the coming days and see if we can get a nice result.”

Team DSM coach Michiel Elijzen continued: “That’s the first stage of Haut Var done and dusted for us. It was a good start to the race, with the young group that we have here, especially because it was everybody’s first race of the season. We were present in the beginning and tried to get in the breakaway with one of the guys. We ended up missing out but that was okay, so towards the end we tried to get Martijn and Michael into as good a position as possible on the last climb. It was a pretty vicious pace and the guys did a really good job trying to help them out. We lack a little bit of intensity at the moment and couldn’t go for a top ten but overall it was a really good start.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 MOLLEMA Bauke Trek - Segafredo 4:50:20 14
2 VAN AVERMAET Greg AG2R Citroën Team 0:01 5
3 MADOUAS Valentin Groupama - FDJ ,, 3
39 STORER Michael Team DSM 0:14 -
53 TUSVELD Martijn Team DSM 0:47 -
82 VANDENABEELE Henri Team DSM 5:34 -
99 BRENNER Marco Team DSM 7:16 -
108 VERMAERKE Kevin Team DSM 10:34 -
113 SALMON Martin Team DSM 14:01 -
114 HEINSCHKE Leon Team DSM ,, -