The opening stage of the Tour de Picardie saw Bryan Coquard (Europcar) take out the victory ahead of fellow countryman Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr). Ramon Sinkledam (Giant-Shimano) was the rider who crossed the line in 3rd. Kristian Sbaragli gave his sprinting legs a good run in and finished just outside of the top 10 for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung.
The rather flat 191km stage saw 4 riders jump away early on in the stage. Among the 4 escapees was former world champion, Philippe Gilbert (BMC) as well as Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma – Quickstep), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Tim Declerq (Topsport Vlaanderen). The break were able to forge out a lead of 5 minutes, obviously with the presence of Gilbert in the break the sprinters teams were not keen on giving the attackers any more breathing space.
In the run in to the line, the high speed coupled with some wind saw the peloton become reduced to just 55 riders as the break were absorbed with just more than 10km to go. A fast sprint finish would ensue and Sbaragli was in a perfect position going into the last corner, but a crash would cause the Italian to pull his foot from his pedal, 11th place would be the final result for Sbaragli.
Rider – Kristian Sbaragli
The legs were good today and also the small bunch finish suited me well. I was around 7/8th in the last corner but i was involved in the crash and i lost my cleats which really cost me a good result today. I am also really happy that i have recovered well after my few issues at Dunkerque and now i will try again for a result tomorrow.
Directeur Sportif- Michel Cornelisse
It was a simple stage with no mountains. We were in a couple of early moves but eventually the 4 riders including Gilbert got away. The peloton broke up into 3 groups later on and Kristian was our only rider in the front group with the rest in the 2nd. Kristian almost crashed in the finale and had to come from too far back in the end.
Tour de Picardie (France) – (16-18 May/UCI2.1) Team Lineup
Staff: Michel Cornelisse (Directeur Sportif), Bastian Buffel (Soigneur), Daniele Nieri (Mechanic), Andreas Beck-Watt (Mechanic)