Tour de France 2021: Stage 1 – Alaphilippe rides away from the chaos to take yellow

The first stage of Tour de France 2021 was brutal and bloody, with two massive crashes that, combined, pretty much had every cyclist on the ground at one point or another. A lead group of only 50 riders went into the final climb to contest the stage win, including stage favourites Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert as well as the world champion. As is his wont, Julian Alaphilippe put in a searing attack from nearly 2km out and a combination of everyone looking around, ‘no legs’ and the explosiveness of his acceleration meant that no one came close to catching him as he cruised in for an emotional win. But the aftermath of this stage is going to be felt for some time.

A lion for Nino

For the third year running, Julian Alaphilippe is back in yellow and, as per usual, the victory had an emotional edge to it. Last year, he took a stage win and the yellow jersey just a few months after his father had passed away. This time, the emotional was more joyous, as he dedicated his win to his newborn son, Nino.

By the time they got to the final climb, neither Mathieu van der Poel nor Wout van Aert had anything left.

“I was close to him, but I couldn’t react. I was on the limit”

But Michael Matthews somehow got through the crashes, had the legs and took second. And who is that taking third? Why, none other than Primoz Roglic

The crashes

You’ve seen what happened in the highlights. A massive crash at about 44km to go, that took down nearly everyone. The race was neutralised of a fashion but by the 10km banner, the race was definitely on and there was a lot of speedy jockeying for position. At that point, a touch of wheels near the front and riders were flying into the hedges and nearly into a telephone pole. Again, it brought down the majority of the peloton.

Of the 50 Ineos leaders at the start of the day, only Richard Carapaz and Geraint Thomas came over the line relatively unscathed, with Thomas coming in 8sec behind Alaphilippe. Adding the bonus points for Alaphilippe, Thomas sits in 10th place on GC, 18sec down; Carapaz is in 22nd, 23sec down. Richie Porte had some Richie Porte luck (as in none …) and starts Stage 2 with just short of a two and a half minute deficit on GC. Tao Geoghegan Hart is 5.43min down.

The guys in Jumbo Visma certainly didn’t come off unscathed, with Tony Martin being the rider who hit the placard and his team went down with him (as did almost all of the peloton). Martin is a tough rider but I wonder if he’ll be able to continue, considering he did go down heavily on his head. That said, their GC rider, Primoz Roglic, finished third and looked pretty calm by the end. Wout Van Aert was also in that lead group, and the rest of the Jumbos came in scraped and torn a bit, but hopefully no lasting injuries.

Roglic’s biggest rival, Tadej Pogacar, also was in the front group who followed Alaphilippe in so for the two favourites, it wasn’t a catastrophic day. His UAE Emirates teammate, Marc Hirshi, however, went down hard in the second crash – he came in more than 18min down. The only rider who came in after him was Movistar’s Marc Soler (who also went down very hard) with a deficit of more than 24min.

I think Peter Flax’s tweet really does say it all.

Hero of the day goes to this mom.

And let’s all spare a thought for these three riders whose Tour dreams were crushed in the crashes. All our hopes for speedy recoveries for each.

The first set of dots

Almost simultaneously with the massive crash, Bora’s Ide Schelling crested the climb that put him into the polka dot jersey tomorrow. And he was triumphant.

The nerves, the stress!

Neil Young was wrong when he wrote ‘only love can break your heart’. Cycling can too.

The last word

Stage results

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 4:39:05

2 Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) +0:08

3 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time

4 Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) s/t

5 Wilco Kelderman (Bora-hansgrohe) same time

GC top 10 

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 4:38.55

2 Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) +0:012

3 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time +0:14

4 Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) +0:18

5 Wilco Kelderman (Bora-hansgrohe) same time

6 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) s/t

7 David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) s/t

8 Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippo) s/t

9 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) s/t

10 Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) s/t

All the Jerseys

Leaders jersey : Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

Points jersey : Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

KOM jersey : Ide Schelling (Bora-hansgrohe)

Best young rider jersey : Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates)

Most combative stage prize : Ide Schelling (Bora-hansgrohe)

For full stage review, go to cyclingnews

Official Tour de France website is here

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