The 2019 Bosses de Provence gran fondo in Marseille, France started at the foot of the Col de la Gineste, a 5km climb at 5%. It is a brutal way to start a 165km event with 2900m vertical climbing.
To make matters worse, local professional team Delko Marseille Provence KTM was asked by organizers to “stretch out the peloton” from the first pedal stroke by setting a supersonic rhythm.
They did, and it worked.
The end result was a very thin, long, broken peloton by the top of the first climb and before addressing the real cycling challenges that lay ahead.
As one of the most poplar cycling events in Southern France, Bosses de Provence (“Mondialette” for locals) attracts not only riders eager to show off their end-of-season form, but also thousands of roadside French fans. They were especially thick at the top of the Grand Caunet and the Col de l’Ange climbs, where they cheered and ran alongside riders just like at Le Tour.
By the time of pointy end of the peloton reached Le col de l’Espigoulier (use four times in Le Tour de France), the group numbered only 12 riders. Soon the eventual winner Stephane Cognet escaped with Mickael Plantureux, while everyone else raced for the last podium spot.
Cognet finished in 4:34:04, just out sprinting breakaway companion Plantureux. Rounding out the podium was Florent Gardella.
Florence Nacio-Casalies finished in 5:13:35 to win the women’s race, followed by Annalisa Prato and Amelie Devecchi.