Voeckler wins the first stage of inaugural Tour La Provence

The inaugural edition of Tour La Provence kicked off with a 169km stage that brought the riders from Aubagne to Cassis. It was a day full of ups and downs and the course included the climbs of Cote des Thermes, Cote du Pigeonalier, Cote du Cengle, Cote de l’Esipouglier, Pas  d’Ouliier and Routes des Crestes along the way. In the end, the riders faced to laps of a 7.8km finishing that included a 900m climb with a gradient of 15%. The finish line was located 200m from the top, making it a perfect finish for puncheurs.

Having joined an early six-rider breakaway, Thomas Voeckler dropped his companions on the tough finishing circuit and managed to hold off a splintering peloton on the short climb to the finish to take botht he win and the leader’s jersey. Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) won the sprint for second ahead of Voeckler’s young teammate Lilian Calmejane.

There are no bonus seconds in the race so Voeckler now leads Vakoc by the handful of seconds he gained in the stage. He will try to defend his position in tomorrow’s second stage which should be significantly easier. It includes six climbs in the first half but the final half is predominantly flat. It ends with four laps of a 6.3km finishing circuit where the sprinters are expected to come to the fore.

Tour La Provence 2016 – stage 1 results (Aubagne – Cassis):

1 Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie)  4:27:15
2 Petr Vakoc (Etixx – Quick-Step)  +07”
3 Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie)  +09”
4 Pieter Serry (Etixx – QuickStep)  ,,
5 Chris Anker Sorensen (Fortuneo – Vital Concept)  ,,
6 Alessandro De Marchi (BMC)  +12”
7 Anthony Roux (FDJ)  +14”
8 Francesco Gavazzi (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec)  ,,
9 Sergei Chernetckii (Katusha)  ,,
10 Julien El Fares (Delko Marseille)  ,,

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