First race, first win: Ethan Vernon’s IPT career started in spectacular fashion on Saturday as he sprinted to win the opening stage of the Tour des Alpes – Maritimes in Antibes.

The 23-year-old Brit, who joined the team for the 2024 season, won emphatically after capitalizing on a superb lead-out teammate from Guillaume Boivin, who finished fifth.

We weren’t sure how hard it was going to be but in the end it was hard but I had good legs,” explained Vernon. “I’ve just come off a good training camp so it was a bit of an unknown but like last year, I always start the season quite strong so I’m happy. It was a good day.”

The two-rider breakaway was caught inside the final 20 kilometers, at which point multiple riders attacked from the bunch. As he crossed the line, Vernon was unsure as to whether one rider was still in front and hesitated to celebrate. He needn’t have worried, winning by more than a bike length in convincing fashion.

I knew a guy was still ahead and I was so focused on the race I wasn’t sure if we had caught him or not so just in case I didn’t celebrate but now I wish I had,” he said laughing.

Photo: Vernon celebrates with Krists Neilands

Vernon had nothing but praise for his teammates after the IPT train took control of the race to set him up perfectly in the sprint.

In the last lap my legs were good and I knew we could win. The guys were really strong and we lined it out in the last five to six kilometers and I thought we had gone too early to be honest but I was really impressed with how strong the guys were today.”

The second and final stage of the race will be a short but tough day of climbing and while the pressure is now off for Vernon, IPT switches its focus to the General Classification.

Photo: Podium time for Vernon

I think tomorrow will be too hard for me but we will see. The legs were good today but our two goals were to win the stage today and stay in contention for the GC with the guys and we did both. So we need to see how tomorrow plays out. Now that I’ve won today there is no pressure for me and I can help the guys. We have a couple of cards to play.

And while Vernon has just one day of racing in his legs with IPT, he already feels at home in the team.

IPT offered me a really good opportunity to become a leader and ride the bigger classics and build a sprint train around me and I think I can already say I made the right decision.”