Shake rattle and roll! The GC was all shook up on this sunny, testing stage, the first in the mountains. Greg Van Avermaet, last man standing from a nine-man break, won from a daring solo attack a good five minutes ahead of the much reduced peloton. Slowly but surely, the GC has started to take shape, as a Romain Bardet-initiated attack in the final kilometres served to further distance Alberto Contador while Vincenzo Nibali had been shelled with Peter Sagan by Movistar earlier in the stage on the Pas de Peyrol. This, however, was merely the first salvo.
Rider of the Race
There’s only one candidate for today’s award, the stage winner, BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet, whose solo victory earned him the race leader’s jersey, his first ever in the Tour.
It feels great. Yellow jersey — I was never dreaming about this. It’s one in a lifetime for me, and I’m going to enjoy it as much as possible tomorrow.
Much to the surprise of the commentators, GVA attacked his remaining breakmate, Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal), some 17km from the line. Later we learned from de Gendt that GVA had remained with him long enough to ensure the former captured his objective, the KOM jersey. Nice one, Greg!
There was much disappointment over the tactics in the Tinkoff camp, particularly with regards to the support afforded wounded race leader Alberto Contador, perhaps best summed up by Tinkoff DS Sean Yates.
But there was some consolation for Baby Blackbird…
Celebrations for Pou-pou
Like the Queen, Raymond Poulidor, French cycling royalty, evidently has two birthdays. He celebrated his 80th birthday on 15th April this year and was honoured again today in his hometown of Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat, in a ceremony held 10 minutes before the peloton’s passage, some 50m after the summit of the first hill (16.5 km) on today’s stage to Le Lioran.
During the Tour de France, each morning you’ll find M et Mme Raymond Poulidor holding court in a corner of the Credit Lyonnais stand. Pou-pou will be glad handing, signing autographs and having his photograph taken with guests of the company which sponsors the maillot jaune – a jersey he’s never worn. Despite his impressive palmares, he’s known as “The Eternal Second”, which may go some way to explaining his enormous popularity with the French public.
Looking like everyone’s favourite grandfather, with a twinkle in his eye and a beaming smile on his face, during the Tour he assuredly has his photograph taken more times than the overall winner.
1 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) 5:31:36
2 Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) +02:34
3 Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) +05:04
4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) same time
5 Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) +05:07
GC top 5
1 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) 25:34:46
2 Julien Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) +05:11
3 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +05:13
4 Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +05:14
5 Chris Froome (Team Sky) +05:17
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
KOM jersey: Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal)
Best Young Rider: Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step)
Full race review: CyclingNews
Header image: ©GETTY / AFP / Lionel Bonaventure