The first rider, Oskar Nisu (Estonia), left the start ramp at 17.00 local time and began a two hour program that saw some riders get their race off to a great start while others floundered. One of the first riders to post a good time was Italian Oliveira Troia, who posted a time of 5'08". Soon after, Jeremy Maison (France) and Nathan Van Hooydonck (Belgium) posted times of 5'07", with Maison finishing slightly quicker.
Riders came and went but it took nearly 20 riders until Max Schachmann (Germany) took the lead by 1 second. Another 17 later, Espoirs Central pick for the overall win, Sam Oomen, usurped the German and took the hot seat with a time of 5'03"
Johannes Weber was an unknown quantity to most, including myself, however after coming off a good Volta a Portugal, the German was the first rider to dip under the 5 minute mark with a 4'59" on the steep course that reached a maximum gradient of 15% on the climb that dominated the first half of the race.
While it took 79 riders to get one under 5 minutes, it only took just 10 minutes for that time to be smashed again. Søren Kragh Andersen, the Dane who already had 4 UCI wins to his name including the overall of the ZLM Roompot Nations Cup, went like a bat out of hell on the Rue Armand Colin climb and proceeded to lower Weber's time by a further 6 seconds to post a 4'53" with an average of 43 km/h. As you can see in the picture above, Kragh Andersen opted for a full TT set up while many went with a standard road bike due to the steepness of the climb.
From there, it was a tale of how close riders would be getting. Gianni Moscon (Italy) was the closest and finished with just a second between himself and Kragh. GC contender Sebastian Henao was really turned up when he finished 3rd with a 4'57", which was the best by any GC contender. Espoirs Central's pick for the win on the day, Germany Lennard Kämna, failed to really impress on a course that is perhaps a bit too short for him and came home with 5'05", which was good for 17th place.
|Henao, Moscon and Kragh Andersen|
Riders within 10 seconds of Henao include Mathieu van der Poel, Gregor Mühlberger, Nans Peters, Odd Eiking, Marc Soler, Sam Oomen, Kämna and Jeremy Maison, among others.
Nothing is certainly over and while Kragh Andersen will be in yellow for stage 1 from Chablis to Toucy, watch the jersey to change hands with the bumpy finish as a rider like Moscon will be drooling with this parcours and a chance to steal the leader's jersey.