Marijn van den Berg won the opening stage at the Route d’Occitanie, holding off Elia Viviani who was relegated later.
The EF Education-EasyPost rider was part of a group of 23 riders that reached the finish ahead of the rest of the peloton. He outsprinted Sandy Dujardin and Paul Penhoët, whilst Elia Viviani (second on the line) ended up relegated.
“It was a tough day. It was especially very hot and there was a lot of hard riding,” the Dutchman said in a post-race interview. “Overall a good day. I hope to be able to participate tomorrow as well. I would like to survive the climbs and then go for the sprint. We also have some men here for the standings, so it’s also about how we can help them. So we will see tomorrow.”
The four-day stage race continues through Sunday. Tomorrow it will leave the Mediterranean coast and head inward toward the Pyrenees.