It was the first stage of the 2020 Tour de France in sunny Nice. Except it wasn’t sunny – heavy rain turned the roads as slippery as ice and riders went down left, right and centre. A rider-led neutralisation of the final descent was the calm before a scrappy sprint finish, won in storming style by UAE Emirates’ Alexandre Kristoff, putting him in yellow for the first time in his career. But that was almost the least surprising thing about the stage.
You have to hand it to Alexander Kristoff – the man can ride well in filthy weather and he made the most of it. Not only did he chalk up his fourth Tour de France stage in his career, he also took his first maillot jaune.
Kristoff is not a mincer of words.
But of course, the highlights of any bike race often come from the interactions of fans on Twitter, so this year, we will be collecting the must-see tweets for every stage. (While saving some back for Tour Tweets of the Week, of course!)
Tony says Achtung, Baby!
Jumbo Bee Tony Martin signalled that the descent of the final climb would be neutralised, due to the number of crashes and conditions of the roads. This was reminiscent of stage 2 of the 2010 Tour de France when Fabian Cancellara controversially neutralised the entire stage, due to the same sorts of conditions.
However, one team (no, not Movistar) decided that they didn’t like that verdict and decided to speed down the descent. As John Lennon warned, ‘instant karma’s gonna get ya’. And it got Astana‘s Miguel Angel Lopez, who not long after his team started bombing down the descent, had his back wheel slide, causing him to stop himself by hitting a (thankfully) plastic road sign by the side of the road.
After that happened, Primoz Roglic had a word with Astana’s Omar Fraile to tell him to cool his jets. Jets were cooled, forthwith.
In a post-stage interview, Ineos’ Luke Rowe said that the teams had a meeting the night before the start of the race to discuss how the peloton was going to deal with dangerous conditions on the road. He wasn’t too impressed with Astana’s going back on that agreement.
There were some dissenting voices in the Twitterstream as well, with fans believing that the riders’ jobs were to race and they weren’t doing that, saying that riders know that cycling is dangerous so get on with it. Well, yes, cycling is dangerous, but it doesn’t mean the riders have to risk everything, all the time, no matter what. In the context of the race, neutralising the descent wasn’t going to harm the race or even the stage finish, whereas losing a lot of riders to injury before the Tour even really started would harm the race and be absolutely unnecessary. So good on you, Tony.
And here is an incomplete list of the riders who crashed at least once (a few of them crashed a number of times), just to show that it wasn’t just a normal day at the Tour.
Train in Vain
No, it wasn’t the sprint train of QuickStep or Bora, it was the two-carriage blue train that seemed to be shadowing the peloton.
That train just kept popping up, over and over again (not surprising, considering the parcours was really just a big circuit). But it then got strangely ominous … speculation on the mystery train of Nice was rife.
Mystery solved …
Just after the 3km banner, it was a big crash and Thibaut Pinot was one of the ones who came down hard. Face like thunder.
La Course by Le Tour
It was a hell of a sprint finish, just watching it (below) makes my legs hurt! Lizzie Deignan from Trek-Segafredo fights to the finish line and wins it with the throw.
The socially distanced podium looked like this.
La Course Top 10
1 Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) 2:22:51
2 Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) same time
3 Demi Vollering (Parkhotel Valkenburg) s/t
4 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM Racing) s/t
5 Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) s/t
6 Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) +0:07
7 Emilia Fahlin (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) +1:50
8 Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Travel & Service) same time
9 Soraya Paladin (CCC-Liv) s/t
10 Liane Lippert (Team Sunweb) s/t
Tour de France Stage 1 Top 5
1 Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) 3:46:13
2 Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) same time
3 Cees Bol (Sunweb) s/t
4 Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quickstep) s/t
5 Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) 3:46:13
2 Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 0:04
3 Cees Bol (Sunweb) +0:06
4 Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quickstep) +0:10
5 Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) same time
6 Elia Viviani (Cofidis) s/t
7 Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) s/t
8 Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) s/t
9 Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie) s/t
10 Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) s/t
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates)
Points jersey Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates)
King of the Mountains Fabien Grellier (Total Direct Energie)
Best Young Rider Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)
Most Combativity of the Stage: Michael Schar (CCC)
For full race reviews, go to cyclingnews.
Official race website: Le Tour
Header image: ©AFP/Stuart Franklin GETTY IMAGES
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