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Riley Pickrell sprints to third in the Tour de la Provence

Robin Plamondon in the day's breakaway.

The finish of the Tour de Provence Photo by: Sirotti

In his first full year with Israel-Premier Tech, Riley Pickrell used his second day of racing to sprint to third in Friday’s soaking-wet Stage 1 of 2.1-rated Tour de la Provence. France has been a fine setting for Pickrell, as he won the second stage of the Tour de l’Avenir last August. For the second day in a row, Lidl-Trek’s Dane Mads Pedersen triumphed in the south of France, and now leads Swedish teammate Jakob Söderqvist by 6 seconds at the midpoint of the race.

There were only two categorized climbs between Aix-en-Provence to Martigues, with plenty of little hills in the final 40 km. Pickrell’s compatriot Robin Plamondon of Continental squad CIC U Nantes Atlantique was part of the day’s breakaway sextet.

Robin Plamondon racing the 2023 Faun Drome Classic. Photo: Sirotti

With 22 km remaining, Plamondon was the third fugitive to drop away from the breakaway. One of the remainders, Frenchman Kévin Avoine of Van Rysel-Roubaix, made an amazing save on the wet road.

The last escapee was reeled in after the race organizers announced that due to the slippery conditions, the GC time would be taken with 5 km remaining. In Martigues, Pedersen seized his fourth victory of the young season. Pickrell’s placing was corrected from fourth to fifth and he jumped up to 31st on GC.

On Friday, Pickrell rolled the 5-km prologue in Marseilles, 38th and +0:26 slower than winner Pedersen.

Pickrell in Thursday’s 5-km prologue in Marseille. Photo: Sirotti

Saturday features tougher climbs, a Cat. 1 cresting 25 km from the finish line.

2024 Tour de la Provence, Stage 1
1) Mads Pedersen (Denmark/Lidl-Trek) 3:32:35
2) Axel Zingle (France/Cofidis) s.t.
3) Riley Pickrell (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) s.t.
74) Robin Plamondon (Canada/CIC U Nantes Atlantique) +0:47

2024 Tour de la Provence GC
1) Mads Pedersen (Denmark/Lidl-Trek) 3:37:54
2) Jakob Söderqvist (Sweden/Lidl-Trek) +0:06
3) Samuel Watson (Great Britain/Groupama/FDJ) +0:11
31) Riley Pickrell (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +0:27
76) Robin Plamondon (Canada/CIC U Nantes Atlantique) +1:33