Stage 1 race report
The Norwegian veteran beat world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Cees Bol (Sunweb) in the bunch kick in downtown Nice after a crash in the final three kilometers split the peloton in half.
The 33-year-old came from around sixth wheel back having marked out stage-favorite Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in the final 500 meters. The grizzled Norwegian played the waiting game as Trek-Segafredo looked to launch Pedersen to victory before Bol unleashed his acceleration close to the barriers.
Spying the Sunweb man making his move, Kristoff jumped on his wheel and came around him with 50 meters to go to take his fourth Tour stage and first-ever yellow jersey.
“I was dreaming about winning the yellow jersey, and now it’s a dream come true,” Kristoff said after the stage. “It means a lot for my career. To also have the fourth stage win means I can be up there amongst the best. I’m 33 years old and I have four kids. I still manage to perform, so I’m very happy about that.”
“My run-in to this Tour has not been great. I have no results to show for,” he continued. I crashed in the European championships a few days ago straight on my head. I was a bit banged up but it didn’t affect me today, so I’m very happy.”
Stage 1 preview
Course: The Tour opens in this city along the French Riviera that has long been a tourist destination for the French upper class. Nice has hosted the Grand Départ just once before, in 1981 when Bernard Hinault took the opening prologue. This year’s opening stage caters as much to spectators as it does the riders; the creative route takes in three ascents of the picturesque Col d’Aspremont, before embarking on a downhill and then flat run to the line. A sprinter is likely to win, but he must first survive the hills.
Favorites: Peter Sagan, Caleb Ewan, Giacomo Nizzolo, Wout van Aert
Jens Voigt’s take: It’s an unusual start without any prologue, but it promises to be an interesting stage with the usual battle of tactics between the baroudeurs and the sprinters. Who will win the day and take the precious yellow jersey: the breakaway or the sprinters?! My tip for the stage: the sprinters will not let this chance slip away. Team Jumbo-Visma will win it.