Under perfect blue skies in France’s northwest, hostilities commenced in the 2018 Tour de France, on a 201km route from Noirmoutier-En-L’Ïle to Fontenay-Le-Comte. With an almost completely flat stage profile, the day seemed destined to end in a bunch sprint. Few would have anticipated how tumultuous the closing kilometres would be.
The first stage of the Tour had all its usual firsts. The first breakaway of the Tour slipped away from the peloton in the first few kilometres, with Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Jerome Cousin (Direct Energie) and Kevin Ledanois (Fortuneo-Samsic) off the front until they were caught with about 10km to go. The first crash of the Tour claimed Lawson Craddock, who fell heavily in the feed zone: he’d cross the line bloodied and battered, with a broken shoulder blade and uncertain prospects of continuing. But as the peloton ramped up the pace on the approach to the line, there was one first that wasn’t in the script at the start of the day – the first gaps opening up in the battle for the general classification.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) was the biggest name to lose time, losing 51 seconds to the reduced peloton which was led in by Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step Floors). Froome was fortunate to narrowly miss hitting a pole, and although not hurt, is playing catch-up from earlier than he’d have expected. Also losing time: Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) who was caught behind a crash with 10km to go. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) lost more time still, ending the day more than a minute down after breaking both wheels riding into a traffic island and having to wait for a bike change, just outside 3km to go.
Gaviria, meanwhile, will start stage 2 resplendent in yellow having claimed the first Tour de France stage win of his career. On the evidence of his decisive victory over Sagan, Kristoff and other fancied rivals, it almost certainly won’t be the last.
Through the lenses of Kristof Ramon, the Grubers and Cor Vos, enjoy this look back at the Tour’s first stage. We’re just getting going and we couldn’t be more excited.