Stage 1 of the 2018 Tour de France was as expected – a break goes, rides most of the day out front, the sprint teams organise the catch, then ride full bore to the finish. Except it wasn’t like that as it seemed like Lady Luck was picking on some of the GC guys, with crashes and barrier flips a go-go in the final 10km. But the sprinters went hell for leather, with Philippe Gilbert and Bob Jungels unleashing a mighty Fernando Gaviria in the last 300m, who left Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel in his dust, taking the maillot jaune in his debut Tour de France.
Rider of the RaceEmbed from Getty Images
Can you hear the drums, Fernando? Yep, my first 2018 TdF rider of the race has to be Fernando Gaviria. In the chaos of the final 10km, when there were crashes and pinch points and random mechanicals, the QuickStep team put the pedals to the metal and Gaviria flew through those last kilometres, showing a calm and a confidence that allowed him to open his sprint with about 300m to go and smoke the rest of the field. Not bad for a Tour debutante (Peter Sagan in 2012 was the last rider to win his debut stage) – Gaviria is the first rider since Fabian Cancellera in 2004 to wear the yellow jersey after his debut win. Gaviria is also doing his country proud – the first Colombian since 2003 to don the maillot jaune. Chapeau!
Not so smooth
After nearly 200km of riding in the French sunshine, admiring the tractors and roadside art, it seemed the final 10km or so caught a lot of riders off guard, with spills and flips and adrenalin-fuelled rides to catch the peloton. Richie Porte (BMC), who seems to have severely pissed off Lady Luck when it comes to the Tour, and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) got caught behind a big crash in the last 10km, which also took FDJ’s Arnaud Demare and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) out of the sprint. Tour debutante Egan Bernal (Sky) was seen doing a header into a copse of trees by the roadside, while defending champion Chris Froome flipped over the barriers to land in a field not long after the big crash. Luckily no one seemed to be hurt but it must have put the fear of God into them. Movistar’s Nairo Quintana broke both wheels before the 3km mark and with no teammates around him (interesting …), lost the most time of all the GC faves.
Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde (Movistarlets), and Romain Bardet (Ag2r) all came in with the front group, unscathed. Notable in that group as well was Sky’s Geraint Thomas (although I wouldn’t put him down as a GC contender). The time gaps are as such once the stage’s bonus seconds have been added.
With a team time trial on Monday and it being only the first stage of 21, who knows if these deficits will hold into the mountains, where it’ll be a whole different game. But it can’t be easy to have hit the deck on the first day – road rash makes sleeping uncomfortable and they have another eight stages before the rest day. It’ll be interesting to see the final GC in Paris with today’s deficits in mind.
Unlucky 13Embed from Getty Images
A rider who wasn’t as lucky was EF’s Lawson Craddock. He took a tumble in the feed zone about halfway through the stage – from all accounts, he went over the bars and landed on his face – but struggled on to finish the stage. He had a nasty, bloody cut around his left eye so he was packed off to the hospital as soon as he came over the line. Here he gives us an update – it’s a wait and see situation for him. Such a terrible thing to happen – at the end of this little clip, you can see just how much it means to him (he made me cry …). Everyone’s pulling for you, Lawson.
1 Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors) 4:23:32
2 Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) same time
3 Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) s/t
4 Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) s/t
5 Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors) 4:23:32
2 Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) +0.04
3 Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) +0.06
4 Olivier Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0.09
5 Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) +0.10
6 Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) same time
7 Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) s/t
8 Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) s/t
9 John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) s/t
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)
All the jerseysEmbed from Getty Images
Leader’s jersey: Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors)
Points jersey: Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors)
KOM jersey: Kevin Ledanois (Team Fortuneo-Samsic)
Best young rider: Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors)
Most combative: Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
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Header picture ©GETTY/Velo/Tim de Waele