Tour de France 2020: Alexander Kristoff wins stage one

By Steve SutcliffeBBC Sport
Alexander Kristoff wins the opening stage
Kristoff secured the yellow jersey with a superb sprint finish

Alexander Kristoff timed his sprint finish to perfection to win the opening stage of the Tour de France in Nice.

After a large group crashed inside the final 3km, Norwegian Kristoff, 33, surged home in a sprint also involving Ireland's Sam Bennett, who was fourth.

Rain made the roads treacherous and led to several crashes, with Pavel Sivakov of Team Ineos twice coming off.

Ineos' defending champion Egan Bernal largely avoided the trouble and finished safely in the peloton.

Colombia's Nairo Quintana crashed, while Astana's decision to up the pace on the final descent from Levens saw Miguel Angel Lopez slide into a road sign and prompted some stern exchanges towards the team from other riders in the peloton.

Ineos' Luke Rowe called Astana's move "pretty stupid".

"I have to say 'chapeau' to the whole peloton - minus Astana to hit it down one climb and, as a result, their leader was left on his back," the British rider said.

France's Julian Alaphilippe was also caught in a crash, while compatriot Thibaut Pinot - one of the race favourites - fell heavily towards the end and rolled over the line with a ripped jersey.

However, because the crash happened inside the final 3km, he was credited with the same time as the group he was riding with, so ended up losing no time on his rivals for the overall win.

The riders face a 186km mountainous second stage on Sunday, with two climbs above 1,500m.

'It means a lot for my career'

Veteran Kristoff's most recent stage win at the Tour came on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on the final stage of the 2018 race.

While few expected him to win on Saturday, the first rain in Nice since June worked in his favour as several of his rivals, including Bennett and Australia's Caleb Ewan, were caught up in crashes on the 156km route.

Surging off the wheel of Peter Sagan, UAE-Team Emirates rider Kristoff held off Mads Pedersen and Cees Bol to claim another memorable victory - his fourth at the Tour - and one that saw him collect the first yellow jersey of his career.

"I always dreamed about wearing it," he told ITV4. "Now it is a dream coming true. You cannot dream of a better start.

"We did not expect to win the sprint but I felt really strong and coming to the line I thought I was going to win.

"The boys kept me safe during the stage. I was sitting on Sagan for a long time. At the end I was the strongest and it was an amazing moment for me.

"It means a lot for my career. I am 33, have kids but I can still perform with the best."

Stage one result

1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/UAE-Team Emirates) 3hrs 46mins 23seconds

2. Mads Pedersen (Den/Trek-Segafredo) Same time

3. Cees Bol (Ned/Sunweb)

4. Sam Bennett (Ire/Deceuninck-Quick Step)

5. Peter Sagan (Slo/Bora-Hansgrohe)

6. Elia Viviani (Ita/Cofidis)

7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita/NTT)

8. Bryan Coquard (Fra/B&B)

9. Anthony Turgis (Fra/Total Direct Energie)

10. Jasper Stuyen (Bel/Trek-Segafredo)

General classification after stage one

1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/UAE-Team Emirates) 3hrs 46mins 13seconds

2. Mads Pedersen (Den/Trek-Segafredo) +4secs

3. Cees Bol (Ned/Sunweb) +6secs

4. Sam Bennett (Ire/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +10secs

5. Peter Sagan (Slo/Bora-Hansgrohe)

6. Elia Viviani (Ita/Cofidis)

7. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita/NTT)

8. Bryan Coquard (Fra/B&B)

9. Anthony Turgis (Fra/Total Direct Energie)

10. Jasper Stuyen (Bel/Trek-Segafredo)

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