Egan Bernal third Tour de la Provence as Mark Cavendish struggles on debut

By Matt WarwickBBC Sport
Ivan Sosa and Egan Bernal
Sosa, left, and Bernal both signed for Ineos from the Androni team

Egan Bernal finished third overall at the Tour de la Provence as Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Ivan Sosa won.

Bernal, 24, who won the 2019 Tour de France, finished the four-day race strongly as he recovers from the back injury which affected him last year.

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish suffered bike problems in the first race for his new Deceuninck-Quick Step team in the Clasica de Almeria in southern Spain.

The race was won by Italian sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo for Team Qhubeka-Assos.

Briton Cavendish switched back to the Belgian team he rode for from 2013 to 2015 this year, and is hopeful of adding to his record of 30 Tour de France stage victories.

The 35-year-old ended the race in 94th.

In Provence, Germany's Phil Bauhaus won Sunday's final 163km stage from Avignon to Salon de Provence in a sprint for Bahrain-Victorious.

Britain's Matthew Walls finished seventh for Bora-Hansgrohe.

Colombian Sosa, 23, took his first win since the Vuelta a Burgos in 2019.

French world road champion Julian Alaphilippe was second in the general classification for Deceuninck- Quick Step, 18 seconds behind Sosa and one second ahead of Bernal.

Colombian Bernal dramatically abandoned last year's Tour ahead of stage 17 after losing more than seven minutes to his rivals in stage 15 following a back injury.

He had shown very strong form before last year's Tour in the French warm-up races, just as he has in Provence this year after finishing second to Sosa in Saturday's mountainous Queens stage up to Chalet Reynard near Mont Ventoux.

Bernal will contest this year's Giro d'Italia, which begins on 8 May.

"It's an opportunity for him to focus on the Giro and enjoy it, go there with that big smile that he had [when he joined]," said Ineos team boss Dave Brailsford last week about Bernal's race programme.

Ineos are expected to back Geraint Thomas to try to win this year's Tour, supported by last year's Giro d'Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart.

The safety argument dividing the peloton

Luke Durbridge
Luke Durbridge performs the 'super tuck' during the Santos Festival of Cycling

The race in Provence - one of the few to take place amid several coronavirus-related cancellations - was one of the first to be held after cycling's world governing body the UCI announced several new safety regulations.

One controversial decision is to ban the 'super tuck' position, in which riders crouch down on to the top tube of their bike frame as they descend at high speed to gain an advantage through aerodynamic efficiency.

The UCI believes the move is dangerous and could be copied by amateur riders on public roads.

Several high-profile riders have objected to the ruling, which comes into effect on 1 April, including Britain's four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

However, other riders, including Ireland's Dan Martin, a team-mate of Froome, have praised the UCI for taking a decision before any accidents related to the move occur.