Despite there only being two category three climbs on the day’s menu, there was plenty of time spent climbing plenty during the 186.8-kilometer race from Le Cannet to Grasse, where the race would come down to a battle on a punchy uphill finish.
After some initial hesitation, the peloton gave a four-rider breakaway the freedom to go clear and open up an advantage of over six minutes on the Tanneron climb after around 30 kilometers of racing.
From there, it looked like the gap was starting to fall with the peloton pulling the leaders’ advantage back to four minutes 30 seconds before, approaching the 50 kilometers to go mark, it had jumped back up to six minutes.
With an uphill finish still to come, there was everything to play for and the peloton worked hard to try and bring the final two riders back in the closing kilometers but in the end, they had too much in time hand and were able to go onto battle for the win with Anthony Perez (Cofidis) coming out on top.
Behind, Valter, Fausto Masnada and Serge Pauwels were all looking strong as the peloton was whittled down to a more select group as a result of the pressure being implied to try and catch the escapees, who were eventually just six seconds ahead as their group came across the line.
Valter, who started the final climb at the front of the peloton alongside Masnada, was CCC Team’s highest-ranked rider securing a solid fifth place after a late surge to the line in the final meters of the day while Masnada finished just outside the top ten in 12th place and Pauwels finished 23rd.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“Today we started Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var with a long 186-kilometer stage. I just felt so perfect the past few days, and after we did the recon yesterday I really wanted to finish well on this stage, as it suited me perfectly. It was a moderate tempo all day and I think that’s maybe why the breakaway made it to the finish. As a team, we worked very well together throughout the whole stage, especially in the last eight kilometers when we went took the lead so, Fausto and I could start the climb literally from first and second position. I saved my good legs for the final and I made an attack with 500 meters to go which ended in a sweet fifth place but I really want to show more now.”
“Today was quite a quiet stage and after a few kilometers, the breakaway went clear and unfortunately for us, it was able to arrive at the finish line to race for the win. My teammates did a great job to bring us into a good position at the head of the bunch for the start of the last climb and Attila was very good at getting a good place in the final sprint. I had good feelings and tomorrow should be a more suitable stage for me and my characteristics so I hope to finally get a good place.”
Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var
Stage 1: Le Cannet > Grasse (186.8km)
Top 3: 1. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) 2. Anthony Turgis (Team Total Direct Energie) 3. Michael Storer (Team Sunweb)
CCC Team Top 3: 5. Attila Valter 12. Fausto Masnada 23. Serge Pauwels