This first stage between La Croix Valmer and Grimaud (168.8 km) was won by Samuel Dumoulin.
The summary of the first stage of the Tour du Haut var 2011
Quickly after the start a leading group was formed by 3 French riders: Dimitri Le Boulch (Big Mat-Auber 93), Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Benjamin Giraud of VC La Pomme Marseille.
The peloton allowed these three riders to get quite a gap and they thus passed first on top of each of the climbs which were part of this first stage.
When entering Sainte-Maxime, at about 50 kilometers from the finish, their gap was still 3 minutes. Despite the hard work at the head of the peloton by the Cofidis team, probably thinking of a potential stage win for Samuel Dumoulin, the gap continued to increase to a new maximum of 3'22" at 40 kilometers from the finish.
While approaching the Col du Bougnon the gap melted as snow for the sun and it was back to only 1'05" when Dimitri Le Boulch decided to attack in the climb. Only Arthur Vichot could follow him, Benjamin Giraud had to let the two other riders go. The young Vichot than tried to get rid of Le Boulch little by little in the climb while the peloton, led by Team Europcar, started the pursuit. The Big Mat-Auber 93 rider however finally did manage to stay with his compatriote, who discovered his Australian fan club during the Tour Down Under 2010.
The pursuit led by the team from the Vendée (where the Tour de France 2011 will start) however made the gap go down quickly, to about 18 seconds at 15 kilometers from the finish where Manuele Boaro (Saxobank-Sungard) attacked from the peloton to bridge the gap with the two leading riders. In the mean time, these two riders already shaked hands as if they were saying we gave it a try, too bad it didn't work out but with the Italian rider joining them, the leading group started a new chapter. Boaro repeatedly showed his surprise when the two French riders weren't helping him that much to keep the leading group ahead of the peloton, forgetting that they had been in front since almost the start of the stage! At a bitt less than 10 kilometers from the finish the 3 riders were thus taken back by the peloton.
The peloton thus started as a bunch with the climb towards the finish, led by Laurent Mangel of the Saur-Sojasun team.
The stage outcome was finally decided in the last few meters and after an attack by Cédric Pineau (FDJ), only the Italian rider Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) keep up with him. Samuel Dumoulin zig-zags his was up to a small gap Nocentini left on the right side of the road to win this climbing sprint, ahead of Nocentini and Thomas Voeckler.
The top 5 of the classification for the first stage of the Tour du Haut Var 2011