Giulio Ciccone also finishes with the reduced bunch in a thorny Stage 1
The four-day La Route d’ Occitanie kicked off with a tricky opening stage that saw a breakaway of seven pulled back with over 30 kilometers remaining and another two-rider move going clear.
Merhawi Kudus (Astana-Premier Tech) and Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën) gained a maximum lead of 35 seconds before EF-Education-Nippo and Trek-Segafredo began to control the gap.
Eight kilometers from the end, the leading pair’s lead was 10 seconds when Vendrame attacked, extending the gap to 24 seconds as the bunch absorbed kudus.
Vendrame successfully held off the bunch, hot on his heels, to take a savvy win. Four seconds later, the sprint for second went to Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) just ahead of Jacopo Mosca.
We tried to do our part to lead the race and play our chances to win, but it wasn't enough. The second half of the race was very tactical, and Vendrame was smart and strong enough to take advantage of a break moment in the peloton and getting enough advantage to win.
- Jacopo Mosca
The last two kilometers, I took Magnus Cort's wheel. I just followed him with the hope of trying to jump him. I knew it would be hard, but if you don't try, you don't know.
After a tough race like the Giro, you always have some question marks about your condition; you never know if you've fully recovered and if the condition is as brilliant as you'd like. Today I had proof that I was there.
I had an extra gear today, given to me by the team: They gave me confidence from the start as the leader and supported me to play in the finale. The morale boost was significant for my performance. Tonight, we don't celebrate a victory, but we can still be happy for a good team performance."
Giulio Ciccone finished in 22nd place in a reduced bunch that numbered 40 riders at the finish.
The race continues with a flat Stage 2 Friday before a weekend of mountains.