The Tour Take | Tour de France Stage 1
1st – Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors)
2nd – Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe)
3rd – Marcel Kittel (Team Katusha)
Starting on the island of Noirmoutier-en-Lille, Stage 1 took a 201km path to Fontenay-le-Comte. It was a flat route with only around 750m of climbing for the day, including one categorized climb. The Category 4 climb the Cote de Vix came with 28 km to go. Only 4% for 700m, it was hardly a hill but decided the first wearer of the KOM Jersey.
Yellow – Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors)
Polka Dot – Kevin Ledanois (Team Fortuneo-Samsic)
Green – Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors)
White – Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors)
Three men from the wildcard teams made up our first break of this year’s TDF; Jerome Cousin of Direct Energie, Yohan Offredo of Wanty Groupe Gobert, and Kevin Ledanois of Team Fortuneo-Samsic. They worked well together, with all three sharing the work, and not contesting the sprint (Cousin took the points as they rode over the line in formation).
They got a maximum gap of just over three minutes, as the sprinters were giving them no chance of stealing the Yellow Jersey. Behind, Groupama-FDJ, Lotto NL- Jumbo, Dimension Data and QuickStep were doing the majority of the chasing for their sprinters – the notable omissions were Katusha, Lotto Soudal, and Bora.
The group of three weren’t caught until the final 20km though, meaning they contested the KOM sprint. Kevin Ledanois won the sprint and will wear the Polka Dot Jersey in Stage 2 as a result.
Ledanois was dropped with 22km to go, and 5km later, Oliver Naesen attacked from the bunch. That was the first move we’ve seen to take advantage of the sprint for bonus seconds. It came with 13km to go, and he took a second, moving him up the GC. Up ahead, Cousin and Offredo took three and two seconds, before being caught by the peloton
6th – Michael Matthews
64th – Heinrich Haussler
81st – Simon Clarke
83rd – Richie Porte
106th – Mark Renshaw
147th – Rory Sutherland
156th – Luke Durbridge
165th – Simon Gerrans
166th – Mat Hayman
167th – Michael Hepburn
168th – Damien Howson
With 10km to go, the front group was pulled back, and at that moment there was a crash with 10km to go, where Richie Porte, Adam Yates and Arnaud Demare were held up along with around a third of the peloton. That was just the start of the chaos – Egan Bernal crashed at a pinch point a kilometre later, so too Pierre Latour. Chris Froome crashed over a barrier too with about 5km to go. Nairo Quintana then found himself with a rear wheel puncture with 3.5km to go, and surprisingly, no teammates. That’s what happens when every rider on your team is a protected rider I guess, nobody’s left to do the work.
Meanwhile, Bora and QuickStep were ramping up the race, with QuickStep controlling the bunch under the flamme rouge. Trek tried to come around the Belgian squad in the final 500m, but the Wolfpack was out for blood, and Gaviria kicked away. Sagan tried to challenge him, but Gaviria was dominant. He's one from one in his Tour career, with a Yellow Jersey to go with it. Not bad.
Kittel finished up third after coming from a long way back, with Kristoff in fourth, and Laporte finishing fifth, somewhat vindicating his team’s decision to bring him instead of Bouhanni.
The Movers and shakers
Froome Porte and Yates finished together, all 51 seconds back. Those are huge gaps, but they ride for three super strong TTT squads so who knows, they might be back even with Bardet in two days time. Fuglsang, Roglic, Landa, Nibali, and Dumoulin all will be licking their lips. Quintana lost even more time though, coming in 1:14, along with Egan Bernal.
We did get some indications about how the Green Jersey competition will play out too. Nearly all the big sprinters fought for the intermediate sprint points on offer behind the front three. Gaviria won that sprint from Greipel and Demare. That’s a sign that nearly everyone is interested in the Green Jersey, at least for now.
The Next Stage
Stage 2 is more of the same, with a 181km coastal route taking the riders from Moullieron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-Sur-Yon. Another Cat 4 climb comes after 28km, the Intermediate sprint after 132km, and the Bonus Sprint after 168km. The final kilometres feature a few rollers, but at small gradients around 4%. In the final kilometre, the riders will round a corner will 900m to go, and then head up a false flat to the line.
The QuickStep Floors Team was a well-oiled machine today, and Gaviria was so strong – in a similar finish, you’d back him to take the stage again. I’d keep an eye on Marcel Kittel though; he’s quicker than anyone in a drag race, so if he can start a sprint from anywhere in the top 15 spots for once, he’ll have a great chance.
See you back at the social club,