A three-rider breakaway went clear almost as soon as the flag dropped on stage one and was allowed to open up an advantage that eventually settled at around the three-minute mark after 15 kilometers, of the 138.5-kilometer course.
With crosswinds on the long section between the day’s two category three climbs, the Côte de Beynes and the Côte de Beule, the pace at the front of the peloton was high, and as the gap to leaders fell, small gaps began to open up.
The wind at this point was not strong enough to cause any definitive splits, but, with 40 kilometers to go and the breakaway caught, the main bunch exploded again and this time, CCC Team’s sprinter, Jakub Mareczko was caught out when several echelons formed.
As the various groups started to come back together, Francisco Ventoso was sitting in the first part of the peloton while, Alessandro De Marchi and Amaro Antunes worked hard as part of the second group on the road, 20 seconds back.
The three CCC Team riders eventually came back together in the front group in the closing kilometers of the stage and were able to stay in contention as the General Classification contenders started to attack to claim the bonus seconds on offer at the two intermediate sprints inside 20 kilometers to go.
More movement at the front of the race saw the group stretched out across the road as it made it’s way back towards the start town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and it was Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) who went on to take the day’s honors after a reduced bunch sprint to the line.
In the end, the CCC Team trio were slightly distanced as the pace being set to ensure the final drag race to the line took its toll and in the end, De Marchi was the team’s first rider across the line, one minute back, closely followed by Ventoso and Antunes.
Race Reaction from Inside the Team Car with Sports Director, Piotr Wadecki:
“It was a really nervous stage. Everybody wanted to stay up at the front and this caused various crashes, thankfully none of our guys were caught up. Our guys tried to stay up at the front and when the peloton first split we were on the right side of that move. Unfortunately when it split for a second time, we were caught out but, in the end, Antunes, De Marchi, and Ventoso were all able to make it into the first group.”
“In the final, when the speed increased again approaching the final intermediate sprint, we lost some time and of course, it’s a pity but, I also think it could give us a little bit more freedom to be aggressive and play a couple of different cards by looking for breakaway opportunities while also keeping an eye on the bunch sprint over the rest of the next few days.”
Paris – Nice
Stage 1: Saint-Germain-en-Laye > Saint-Germain-en-Laye (138.5km)
Top 3: 1. Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) 2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 3. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step)
CCC Team Top 3: 65. Alessandro De Marchi 69. Francisco Ventoso 71. Amaro Antunes
Photos courtesy of A.S.O / Alex Broadway