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30.08.2020 Europe

Norwegian Alexander Kristoff wins first stage in rain-drenched Nice

By RFI
POOL/AFP
LISTEN AUG 30, 2020
POOL/AFP

Norwegian Alexander Kristoff won the opening stage of the 2020 Tour de France on Saturday in a kick-off marred by rain and consequent crashes.

After a late pile-up on Nice's iconic Promenade des Anglais, Alexander Kristoff of UAE Emirates won a crash-marred opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.

The Norwegian will now wear the overall race leader's yellow jersey, having fought back from an early fall that looked like ruling him out.

Truce called following crashes due to rain
However, the first rain in the Mediterranean city since June turned the opening jaunt of the 21-day race into a lottery.

Key victims of the multiple crashes included French hopes Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe, with Colombia's Astana captain Miguel Angel Lopez suffering a jaw-dropping downhill slide that saw him slam face-first into a traffic sign.

Top riders, led by the Jumbo team, were shocked by the crash.

A truce was called that slowed down the race.
 "That was great for me, allowed me to get right back in," said 33-year-old Kristoff, who had been around six minutes adrift after his own tumble.

Tour de France uncertainty over Covid
The heavy COVID-19 atmosphere weighing on the seaside city was lightened slightly at the start when French government minister Michel Blanquer sent out a rare message of hope the Tour would make it all the way to Paris in three weeks' time.

"You can't rule out the cancellation of the Tour, but it has been so well prepared that the possibilities of it happening are very slim," he said.

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