Race Recap

Race Recap: Tour de la Provence – A parcours for everyone

Tour de la Provence

Team DSM were back in action this February for more early season stage racing, with the four day long Tour de la Provence on the menu. Featuring a parcours which had a little bit of everything, the race got underway with a prologue before a day which was earmarked for the sprinters – although the weather had other things planned – before stage three hosted a puncheur’s paradise and a mountain top finish on the final day.

Heading into the race, the team wanted to continue getting up to racing speed with Romain Combaud, Mark Donovan and Martijn Tusveld all making their season debuts here. Taking it day-by-day, the plan for the team was to race aggressively and attentively, forging our own opportunities to show our jersey at the front of the race in the best way possible.

Prologue: Berre-l’Étang to Berre-l’Étang (7 kilometres)

Tour de la Provence started with a 7.1 kilometre long flat prologue in the streets of Berre-l’Étang. The flat parcours was made for the big TT specialists who battled it out for the victory with our guys making it through safe and sound. Stage 1 on paper should be a day for the sprinters with only one categorised climb.

Florian Stork said: “It was a solid day to start this race with an opening stage on the TT bike. It was good to get the legs rolling ahead of the week and we are ready and prepared for the stages to come.”



Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 GANNA Filippo INEOS Grenadiers 8:04 20
2 HAYTER Ethan INEOS Grenadiers 0:12 10
3 LUDVIGSSON Tobias Groupama - FDJ 0:13 5
31 STORK Florian Team DSM 0:28 -
44 DONOVAN Mark Team DSM 0:35 -
52 TUSVELD Martijn Team DSM 0:38 -
62 COMBAUD Romain Team DSM 0:42 -
69 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM 0:45 -

Stage 1: Istres to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (152 kilometres)

Stage 1 of the Tour de la Provence was packed with crosswind chaos. The race exploded once the riders hit the 80 kilometres to go mark and the first echelon of 27 riders, including Martijn Tusveld, got up the road and gradually built up their advantage over the chasing groups. There were several attacks on the final lap of the local circuit but none of them could make it stick. Tusveld positioned himself cleverly in the wheels of the fast finishers and took home a fourth place finish for the team. It was still all to play for with many altitude metres to come in the following days.

”It was clear that this was going to be a day of echelons, with open sections in the final,” expressed Tusveld. “I was able to fight myself into the first group and ride a nice final. The sprint was super fast with a tailwind in the last 10km and I wanted to fight for the wheel of Viviani because I can do a good sprint in a small group. In the end, I maybe gave a bit too much space, but a fourth place is a nice result and I hope to carry this momentum into the following days with the team.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 VIVIANI Elia INEOS Grenadiers 3:17:58 20
2 VANMARCKE Sep Israel - Premier Tech ,, 10
3 ALAPHILIPPE Julian Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team ,, 5
4 TUSVELD Martijn Team DSM ,, -
39 STORK Florian Team DSM 9:34 -
56 COMBAUD Romain Team DSM ,, -
79 DONOVAN Mark Team DSM 9:40 -
94 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM 11:25 -

Stage 2: Arles to Manosque (180 kilometres)

With its three categorised climbs on the menu, today was a perfect day for the puncheurs. Six riders went clear in the breakaway and got a maximum advantage over the peloton of three minutes. The race exploded on the final climb of the day and the bunch split into several groups. Romain Combaud, Mark Donovan and Florian Stork were in the first peloton for us after brilliant teamwork. On the slightly uphill drag to the finish, the puncheurs battled it out for the stage win with Florian leading us home.

“Today we aimed for a breakaway if it was a bigger group,” said Stork. “The move that went wasn’t that attractive for us, so we looked for a result in the final. On the last climb the bunch split and 3 of us were in a group of around 40. Mark and Romain worked to get me in a good position for the finish. In the end we couldn’t go for a top result, but tomorrow we will go for it again as a team.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 COQUARD Bryan Cofidis 4:19:42 20
2 ALAPHILIPPE Julian Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team ,, 10
3 GANNA Filippo INEOS Grenadiers ,, 5
22 STORK Florian Team DSM 0:06 -
32 COMBAUD Romain Team DSM 0:17 -
36 DONOVAN Mark Team DSM 0:27 -
76 TUSVELD Martijn Team DSM 5:35 -
95 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM 9:37 -

Stage 3: Manosque to Montage de Lure (166 kilometres)

The Tour de La Provence came to an exciting crescendo with a rolling day in the hills which ended with the tough Montage de Lure summit finish – a climb that averaged over six and a half percent for just over 13 kilometres. It was a fast start to the day with several attacks before a strong five rider group forged clear, including Romain Combaud for the team. Romain and his breakaway companions worked well together, increasing their lead at one point to over seven minutes. However, with several determined parties in the peloton, the gap began to tumble as the kilometres ticked by. Nevertheless, Romain showed great fighting spirit out front as the race hit the final ascent he pushed the pace and split the breakaway up. After some dogged determination and a fierce fight, he was eventually caught just inside five kilometres to go, with Florian Stork ultimately the team’s first rider across the line at the finish.

Combaud said: “Personally, it was a very good day and also for the team because the goal for us was to be in the breakaway. In the first part of the race, everyone did a very good job to make sure we were there. Then, I had the opportunity and took it but in the final but the gap was not big enough to be able to go for the stage. Overall, I think it was a very good day for the team with some nice teamwork to start the season and end our time in Provence well.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 QUINTANA Nairo Team Arkéa Samsic 4:23:06 20
2 SKJELMOSE Mattias Trek - Segafredo 0:37 10
3 JORGENSON Matteo Movistar Team ,, 5
17 STORK Florian Team DSM 1:37 -
20 DONOVAN Mark Team DSM 2:35 -
21 COMBAUD Romain Team DSM ,, -
47 TUSVELD Martijn Team DSM 6:00 -
88 NABERMAN Tim Team DSM 20:09 -

Reflecting on the week as a whole: 

Team DSM coach Pim Ligthart concluded: “It’s been a good week of learning points for us. After the prologue we started with a day in the wind where Martijn did a good job to finish close to the podium but we also made a few mistakes there as a group. Yet the guys talked through it well and in the last two days we improved step by step in the way we want to race. We finished the race off in a nice way and we will continue working on this, in next week’s Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var.”

Donovan added: “It was the first race for a lot of us so we were looking forward to it. In terms of getting back into the season and getting back into the swing of things racing with the team, it was a nice few days for us. There is a lot to build off of now for the next few races and I think it is promising. From our point of view it was pretty solid, we rode well as a group each day and take some good things with us going forward.”