A number of attacks took off in the final hundreds of meters, with Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (CCC) hitting first before Edvald Boasson – Hagen (NTT) took over the line.The Norwegian was then overtaken by his teammate Gibbons, sweeping the field with Van Avermaet in pursuit, but the South African had timed his attack well, ending with daylight between him and his opponents.
Pier-Andre Cote of the Rally finished second, with Nick Schultz of Mitchelton-Scott third. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) then came fourth, Aussie Freddy Ovett (Israel Start-Up Nation) completing the top 5.
The first stage lasted four laps of the 9.1 km hilly inverted course of Watopia, totaling just over 36 km.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg had attacked with 7 km, taking the last sprint points ahead of Harry Sweeney, while Mitchelton-Scott had only one point ahead of NTT in the general classification.
Van der Poel was near the front in the final climb while Boasson Hagen put almost 600 W to stay in contact with the front group in the final climb of the climb, the elastic breaking just behind him while Pavel Sivakov d’Ineos accelerated the pace to the front.
Kwiatkowski then took over from his Russian teammate, before Boasson-Hagen went ahead and Schultz then led the final climb, Gibbons arriving with the goods after the descent until the finish.
Gibbons’ stage victory helped his NTT team to climb to the top of the general classification of the virtual Tour de France, taking only one point ahead of the Rally in the second stage, Alpecin-Fenix seven points more far in third.
Virtual tour of France, stage 1: Watopia (36.4km)
1. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) NTT, en 45-17
2. Pier-Andre Cote Rally (Can), at the same time
3. Nick Schultz (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, for a second
4. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
5. Freddy Ovett (Aus) Israel Start-Up Nation
6. Edvald Boason Hagen (Nor) NTT
7. Rallye Matteo Dal-Cin (Can)
8. Harry Sweeny (off) Lotto-Soudal
9. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC, all in a second
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos, à 2s
General classification after the first stage
1. NTT (RSA) – 80 points
2. Rallye (Can) – 79 points
3. Alpecin-Fenix (Bel) – 72 points