Norwegian wins the final sprint – favorite falls just before the end

For a long time the tour started smoothly, outliers quickly cashed in, especially shortly before the end. But in the last kilometers it became dramatic, a favorite disappointed.

Photo series with 12 photos

Heavy rain, falls and a sprint spectacle in the battle for the first Maillot jaune: Norwegian Alexander Kristoff won the hectic start of a very special Tour de France under the most difficult circumstances.

The 33-year-old from the UAE Emirates team raced to victory in Nice on Saturday after a sometimes chaotic 156 km and cheered for the yellow jersey. “I’ve always dreamed of one day wearing the yellow jersey, that’s all as a cyclist,” said Kristoff.

In the finish sprint on the well-known Promenade des Anglais he relegated the Danish world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Cees Bol from the Netherlands (Sunweb) to the places. The best German was Tour debutant Jonas Koch (CCC / Schwäbisch Hall) in 21st place.

Favorite Pinot took it hard

As expected, the favorites in the battle for the overall victory were for Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe). Defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and the challengers Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) suffered the first small setbacks: Pinot was hit hardest in the massive fall in the final. Bernal’s Russian teammate Pawel Siwakow (23) and George Bennett had previously fallen from the Jumbo team.

Thibaut Pinot (left) was slightly damaged after his fall – and quite irritated. (Source: Christophe Petit Tesson / Reuters)

Shortly before the tour of France got off to a sharp start, it became once again clear that this edition is different from all previous ones. As part of the strict Corona protection measures, the 176 drivers – including twelve Germans – rolled to the starting line in masks.

List of prominent fatalities

Only a few hand-picked spectators were allowed in this area. However, for the first few kilometers through the center of Nice, thousands of fans were at the edge of the track, although not the crowds expected at a “Grand Depart” at “normal” times.

A three-man escape group without German participation was kept on a leash from the main field. The pace was high, the race was hectic due to the approaching rain, several drivers fell on the increasingly slippery road. Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett, Richie Porte, Julian Alaphilippe – the list of fall victims was prominent.

Tony Martin becomes the spokesperson

About 50 km from the finish – the outliers had already been set – the field reacted and the pace slowed. One of the spokespersons was the German professional Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma), who successfully urged his colleagues to moderate. In any case, this minimized the risk of further accidents, even if there were more falls.

Tony Martin (in yellow, right): The German tour driver shows complete dedication. (Source: Reuters / Stephane Mahe)Tony Martin (in yellow, right): The German tour driver showed complete dedication. (Source: Stephane Mahe / Reuters)

As the sprint trains formed into the final, there was another mass crash – this time, Pinot was hit as well. The hopeful French rolled visibly to the finish, but apparently without serious injury.

But Kristoff cannot get used to the yellow jersey. The favorites are already in demand on the second stage on Sunday. The 186 km stretch takes you over three challenging alpine climbs and ends again in Nice. The tour cannot be won on the second day. If you are weak, you can fill a bigger hole here.

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