It was the first stage of the 2020 Tour de France in sunny Nice. Except it wasn’t sunny – heavy rain turned the roads as slippery as ice and riders went down left, right and centre. A rider-led neutralisation of the final descent was the calm before a scrappy sprint finish, won in storming style by UAE Emirates’ Alexandre Kristoff, putting him in yellow for the first time in his career. But that was almost the least surprising thing about the stage.
We were in Belgium, we were in Spain. And we had a lot of exciting racing in both. There were some kings of the road crowned.
Gent-Wevelgem 2019 went right down to the wire this year – no long solo breakaways as in previous years, but one big bunch sprint, with Alexander Kristoff the strongest at the end of a fatiguing race. The Norwegian launched early and while other more fancied names found themselves either out of position or without that final kick into the headwind, he held his power to sail clear over the line for a victory that took many by surprise. It was classic Kristoff! John Degenkolb and Oliver Naesen joined him on the podium for second and third respectively.