Sepp Kuss avoided some of the carnage on the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday in Nice, France. One of his teammates wasn’t so fortunate.
Kuss rolled into the finish line in 41st and was credited with the same finishing time as stage winner Alexander Kristoff of Norway. The time across the opening 97 miles was 3 hours, 46 minutes, 23 seconds. Kuss stuck with team leaders Primož Roglic and Tom Dumoulin, who finished 39th and 41st, respectively.
“For me, just to get through these stages without any issues is all I can ask for,” Kuss said in a post-race interview with NBC Sports.
It was a wet course Saturday after some early rain. Kuss’ Jumbo-Visma teammate Tony Martin went to the front and urged the peloton to slow down and ride in control for the safety of all riders. Shortly after, Jumbo-Visma rider George Bennett, one of the team’s strongest climbers along with Kuss, slammed to the pavement on his left shoulder after coming in contact with a rider.
Bennett, from New Zealand, was able to finish the stage to move onto Stage 2 on Sunday, but he was 166th and 5:14 behind.
“It was really crazy, rainy and I think a lot of the teams, we decided to slow the pace on the descents once the breakway was caught and not take too many risks. Even without the racing, there was still so many crashes today. It was really nervous. We’re happy to come away OK. ... Pretty wild one.”
Jumbo-Visma rider Wout van Aert also crashed, but he recovered well to finish 35th. Jumbo-Visma team bosses indicated all would be OK to continue the Tour on Sunday.
Sunday will be a tough test early for the riders with climbs of Col de la Colmiane and Col de Tuini, which comes in with grades at 7.4%.The stage will cover 115½ miles.