Marijn van den Berg wins the first stage of the Pays de la Loire Tour

Dutch racer triumphs in photo finish and takes the leader’s jersey

April 2, 2024

Marijn van den Berg was not going to let his teammates down.

The Dutch racer rounded the final corner of the first stage of the Pays de la Loire Tour and surged up the outside. He kicked early, thrusting all his power through his pedals, and threw his bike forwards at the line. He looked across at Jon Aberasturi (PRT), catching the Basque sprinter’s eye. Neither of them knew who had won. It came down to a photo finish. Minutes later, the commissaires returned with good news. Marijn had triumphed by the width of a tire.

“I didn’t see who had won so I was waiting for the photo finish,” Marijn said after celebrating with his teammates. “We had to wait for the photo finish. I came a little bit early and I saw him coming and had not much left, so I just jumped. I saw that he dropped a little bit of speed, so threw my bike. I had trained on that quite a bit. I am super happy with this win."

It was a win for the whole team. All day, they kept Marijn out of the wind, as the peloton traversed across the fields of northern France from Fontenay-le-Comte to Saint-Jean-de-Monts. Darren Rafferty made a move off the front to take the pressure off his teammates. Inside the last five kilometers, Ben Healy did a huge turn, navigating Marijn at the head of the swirling peloton. He dropped him off at one kilometer to go.

Marijn was determined to finish off the job. He won the sprint and claimed the race’s first leader’s jersey as well as the lead in the sprint competition.

“The shape is good,” he said, before stepping on to the podium. “I had a bit of a difficult time after Algarve, but then in Catalunya it went really well again and then last Sunday in Flanders I also had good legs and tried to help Bettiol there and now I can go for my own chances here. It is nice to win the first stage.”

Marijn dedicated his win to his brother Lars, who is also a WorldTour racer, but was taken out of action earlier this spring by a crash.

“He is always in contact with me,” Marijn said. “We speak a lot about the races and he tries to help me and I wanted to reward it with a stage win. To do that is special.”

Now, Marijn and his teammates will turn their attention to the next three stages, where they will race to defend their GC lead. After his performance today, Marijn thinks that Ben is the man to go for the win.

“With Ben we have a really strong guy for the coming stages, with all of the climbs, so we will try to go for him and if I can follow then it is nice,” he said.

Good luck, team. Keep rolling like you were today!

Share this story

Related Stories