A nervous hilly opener in France
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl returned at the start of the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time since 2003, the team’s maiden year in the peloton, with a roster built around Mark Cavendish, a winner of three races already this season, including Milano-Torino, the oldest event in the world.
Held in and around Mamers, where the peloton had to face a 16km circuit six times, the stage got off to a furious start, several riders bursting away from the pack as they attempted to form a breakaway. After numerous skirmishes, a small group formed, but as the gap wasn’t a big one, they were joined by seven riders from the peloton with more than 70 kilometers to go, the new members helping the breakaway take their advantage out to two minutes.
Despite some serious chasing, the attackers made it and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) took the victory, outsprinting his companions in the last 200 meters. Mark Cavendish was the first Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider to come home, around 50 seconds down on the winner.
Photo credit: ©Dario Belingheri / Getty Images