Race report

Tricky and windswept opener in Provence

Tour de La Provence

Photo Credit: Cor Vos

Racing returned for the team today, as we made our first outing in our brand new colours as Team DSM in the opening stage at Tour de La Provence. A testing parcours awaited the riders with several climbs throughout the day, but with a flat finish in Six-Fours-les-Plages, a bunch sprint was expected at the end of the stage.

On the opening climb of Col de l’Espigoulier a breakaway duo escaped from the peloton and the race settled into a rhythm, with the team nestled nicely within the bunch ahead of what was to come. The breakaway’s advantage never exceeded much further north of two minutes and at 70 kilometres to go in the stage, the race exploded on the climb of Montée du Brulat which saw the duo caught and a strong trio forge on ahead, as the bunch split behind.

After a regrouping, the peloton started to coordinate their efforts and began to chip into the trio’s one minute and 30 second lead over the rolling terrain. However, those ahead put up a good fight and they still held onto a 30 second advantage as the race reached the coastline inside the final ten kilometres. The combination of a strong Mistral wind blowing across the riders and the narrow, technical roads saw some splits in the bunch with some of the team unfortunately caught out.

The rest of the guys tried to move sprinter Max Kanter towards the front of the bunch as best as possible but found their way blocked, with Kanter ultimately unable to compete in the sprint at the finish.

“Today we didn’t achieve the result which we had hoped for at the beginning of the stage,” explained Kanter at the finish. “It was a really hard race and we were always riding on the back foot. I think we are all a bit disappointed about today’s result, but we will evaluate it and try to learn and improve for the next stages.”

Team DSM coach Michiel Elijzen added: “It was a strange stage today. We expected a really hard start but from kilometre zero, a break of two went away. The peloton played a little bit with the breakaway up until 70 kilometres to go, where the final opened up pretty early with an attack from Alaphilippe, Moscon and Ciccone. So with three good riders in front, there was a big chase behind from the big sprint teams. We were present in the peloton but in the end didn’t have the legs to get together towards the sprint, so we couldn’t do much in the finish. Max was a bit disappointed with his placing in the end, but there are a lot of things we can learn from today and take into the next days here.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 BALLERINI Davide Deceuninck - Quick Step 4:43:23 20
2 DÉMARE Arnaud Groupama - FDJ ,, 10
3 BOUHANNI Nacer Team Arkéa Samsic ,, 5
38 KANTER Max Team DSM ,, -
65 LEKNESSUND Andreas Team DSM 0:21 -
72 COMBAUD Romain Team DSM 0:00 -
94 DONOVAN Mark Team DSM 1:07 -
115 ROCHE Nicolas Team DSM ,, -
137 MÄRKL Niklas Team DSM 13:24 -
138 SÜTTERLIN Jasha Team DSM ,, -