Vacansoleil rider Thomas De Gendt helped the team put some of the negative publicity that has surrounded the team in recent weeks to rest, with a return to true Vacansoleil style. De Gendt joined Jeremy Roy of FD Jeux and Jens Voigt of Leopard in a breakaway on day 1 of Paris Nice. Too many times we see these breaks go away only for the clinical chasing of the sprinters team to scupper their chances and pounce with 10km to go, with a bunch sprint to follow.
It looked once again like this was going to be the case, but with the combined effort of the breakaway they still held a slight gap coming into the final kilometre.
A massive turn on the front from British champion Geraint Thomas made it look like they were going to catch them a few hundred metres from the line, De Gendt however went at the right time and held off Roy for the win. Voigt was swept up and Garmin-Cervelo's Heinrich Haussler took third. De Gendt pulled on the first yellow jersey of the race.....how long can he hold onto it for?
We will certainly watch with anticipation.
Stage 1: Houdan - Houdan 154.5km
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 4:05:06
2 Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ
3 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
5 Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Procycling
6 Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek
7 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Leopard Trek
8 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
9 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
10 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team