A family spirit surrounded the start of this year’s Tour de la Provence. But then it usually does, in what has become one of the most popular up-and-coming French races.
Only in its seventh year, the Tour de la Provence continues to attract many of the world’s best riders each year, as the diverse terrain and predominantly agreeable temperatures offer ideal early-season racing.
And fans love the race, which loops around the heart of the always-picturesque French Provence. The mood was high as locals mingled around the start in the town of Berre l’Etang just north of Marseille, while a group of retro cyclists even took a lap around the 7.1-kilometer loop that made up the opening prologue.
Once the racing started there was little doubt who was the overwhelming favorite — Olympic and world champion Filippo Ganna. And in this race against the clock, the statuesque Italian left little to doubt as he powered down the out-and-back loop and handily won his second time trial of the season, less than a week after the TT in the Étoile de Bessèges – Tour du Gard.
A local, retro cycling club added local color to the start in Berre-L’Etang.
And they even tried to ride with the pros during the morning warmup!
Nerves were tense for many riders before what was for many the first time trial of the 2022 season.
Plenty of fans were on hand at the start.
French veteran Maxime Bouet — one of the local favorites — was thoughtful at the start.
Patrick Bevin was one of the first riders down the TT ramp.
Children and adults alike gave hearty encouragement to the riders as they started the 7.1-kilometer course.
Italian sprinter Elia Viviani opened up the day for his Ineos Grenadiers teammate and friend Filippo Ganna.
Now in his 20th year as a professional, classics-specialist Philippe Gilbert has been a frequent participant at the Tour de la Provence.
While he doesn’t wear the rainbow stripes in the time trial, world road champion Julian Alaphilippe rode strongly to finish in sixth. Runner-up last year, he is already in a good position for the upcoming three days of racing.
British TT champion Ethan Hayter was one of the surprises of the day as he stormed to second place, 12 seconds behind his teammate Ganna.
Swedish rider Tobias Ludviggson filled out the podium with a strong third place.
There was no slowing Ganna who simply floored his competition.
Composed from start to finish, there was just no stopping “Top Ganna!”