What a day! It should have been simple, but a narrow run-in to the finish offered up a whole lot of chaos, as GC favourites Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Adam Yates and Nairo Quintana lost nearly a minute (Quintana’s deficit was 1:15,a after hitting a kerb just outside the 3km-to-go safe zone and writing off both his wheels).
The day started predictably, with an all-French early break featuring Kévin Ledanois (Fortuneo-Samsic), Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Jérôme Cousin (Direct Energie) jumping from the drop of the race director’s flag, and building up a maximum lead of around three minutes. Along the way, they took the intermediate sprint points and bonus seconds, and Ledanois took the only point on offer to lead the KOM competition into day two.
It was always going to be a bunch finish,a s the feared coastal sidewinds failed to materialise, but there was some selection thanks to a number of high-profile crashes. First, it was Yates, who took a tumble followed by Bernal (Sky), Richie Porte (BMC) and, in a bizarre moment, Defending champion Froome tussled with the imposing bulk of Marcel Kittel while trying to scuttle up the outside, and ended up over the bars in a field. None of these riders was injured, beyond a scrape and a scuff, unlike EF-Drapac’s Lawson Craddock (wearing race number 13…) who crashed in the feed zone half way through the stage, and finished with stitches in his eyebrow, and a cracked scapula. In a post race interview, he told reporters he would see how he felt in the morning, before deciding whether or not to continue. This. Is. Not. Football.
Back to the front, so to speak, and it was all Quickstep in the run in, leading out Colombian sprint sensation Fernando Gaviria (yes we picked him in our stage preview) for a relatively effortless win over World Champion Peter Sagan and a fast-finishing Marcel Kittel. Gaviria now wears Yellow for stage two, and will lend Green to Sagan for as long as he hangs on to it. The White Jersey for the best U26 rider will be worn by Dylan Groenewegen, again borrowing it from Gaviria.