Israel – Premier Tech’s Riley Pickrell did well to make podium on the wet stage 1 of Tour de la Provence after crossing the line in third place in a hectic sprint.

“The team was great today. We were in the right place at the end and I decided to follow Kirsch [Lidl-Trek] as he got a gap after the penultimate corner. I wasn’t sure if it was the right call but I think Kirsch would have won the stage if I hadn’t closed him down”, Pickrell reflects after the stage.

“I then tried to hold Kirsch at about three-four meters, to use him as a little bit of a leadout, but unfortunately, by holding him there, I burned a lot of watts. By the time I went to sprint, I was just done and Pedersen [Lidl-Trek] passed me to win the stage. Overall, I’m happy with today though. I may have made some mistakes but I’m really thankful for the team to ride for me as a neo-pro and to trust me like that. I think we can be happy with third today.”

Without any bonus seconds on the line, as the time for the general classification was taken with five kilometers left to go, Riley Sheehan put in a sneaky attack to gain four seconds on his rivals at the 5k banner, before setting up to finish with the peloton. Sheehan is now fifth in the GC, just 12 seconds off the leading rider, Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek).

“With 6 km to go, I saw that the breakaway was within distance and that gave me the perfect launch pad to bridge across and then attack to take some sneaky seconds”, Sheehan explains.

“Every second counts in this race and I think we made a really smart tactical decision today. I’m really excited for tomorrow’s stage and everybody is super motivated after today.”

On Saturday, Tour de Provence continues with an undulating stage. Rain is expected once again and with an uphill sprint to the line, this will be an important day for the GC riders.