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Gallery: Rainbows on the opening day of the Tour de la Provence

World champion Julian Alaphilippe was in a strong break for most of the day, but it was his Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammate Davide Ballerini who scored the win.

The 2021 Tour de la Provence opened with quite a spectacle, as reigning world road champion Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-Quick-Step was in a breakaway with Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers) for nearly the entire day.

Photojournalist James Startt was there to capture the action, as well as some other moments before and during the stage.

Alaphilippe, as recognizable for his panache as his world champion stripes, always seemed ready to attack to keep racing hot during most of the day’s 182 kilometers.

The race traversed a category 1 and three category 3 climbs, rolling past beaches of the Côte d’Azur on the way to the finish at Six-Four-les-Plages.

Lilian Calmejane (Ag2r-Citroën) and Delio Fernández (Delko) tried to escape and bring back the three at the very front, but the attempt came to nothing.

And while the break was eventually — almost predictably — caught with just 2km remaining, it was a stage not without excitement.

But, at the end of the day, it was Alaphilippe’s Deceuninck teammate, sprinter Davide Ballerini, who got his wheel across the line first on a well-timed sprint and bike throw to edge out Groupama-FDJ’s Arnaud Démare.