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Route d’Occitanie stage 1: Coquard wins sprint as crash splits bunch in final kilometer

Pinot caught up in late crash in first French race since Paris-Nice.

Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels) won the opening stage of the Route d’Occitanie in a crash-marred finale Saturday that saw GC favorites such as Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) hit the deck.

The French sprinter won ahead of Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren), and takes the leader’s jersey in the four-day race in southeastern France. A big crash in the final kilometer saw Pinot among several riders crashing, but it appears the French star was not injured in his first race since Paris-Nice.

“I won it in a bike-throw,” Coquard said. “It’s special to win against such an important field.”

The race marked the return to action for several top stars, including Chris Froome and defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal (Team Ineos). Bernal avoided the late crash and dashed to sixth in the stage.

Remnants of the day’s main break featuring Lilian Calmejane (Total Direct Energie) and Andreas Kron (Riwal) was reeled in with 15km to go to set up the sprinters in the first French race since Paris-Nice.

A crash inside the closing kilometer took down the likes of Pinot and and Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) , but early reports suggest no serious injuries.

The race continues Sunday with the 174.5km second stage from Carcassonne to Cap Découverte featuring three minor climbs that should favor the sprinters again.

Stage top 3:

  1. Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels)
  2. Elia Viviani (Cofidis): S.T
  3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren): S.T.