Tour de France: Chris Froome crashes as Fernando Gaviria wins stage one

Chris Froome lifts his bike back on to the road after crashing on stage one
Froome returns to the race after crashing late on the opening stage

Britain's Chris Froome crashed during the opening stage of the Tour de France as his quest to win a record-equalling fifth title began with a scare.

The defending champion careered off the road on a left-hand bend in the closing stages but was quickly back racing.

Froome is 61 seconds behind stage winner Fernando Gaviria and 51 seconds behind several rivals for the title but alongside fellow Briton Adam Yates.

"I'm grateful I'm not injured and there is plenty of racing left," said Froome.

"I'm OK, we saw a lot of crashes out there but we knew the first few days were going to be tricky.

"We were at the front of the peloton so there was not much more the guys could've done - it was just chaotic with the sprinters up there."

A chaotic finish to a benign stage

Stage one had been going to script with three riders breaking clear as soon as the 201km race started in Noirmoutier-en-L'Ile, allowing the peloton to ease into the three-week race.

Jerome Cousin, Kevin Ledanois and Yoann Offredo built up a lead of around four minutes before they were gradually reeled back as the teams of the sprinters gathered at the front of the peloton, each knowing that whoever won the stage would claim the yellow jersey.

But that is where the script was ripped up.

A crash with just over 10km remaining splintered the peloton, with French hope for the stage win, Arnaud Demare, among those delayed.

Two of Froome's rivals for the overall win, Richie Porte and Yates, were also caught up and looked set to lose time on the Team Sky rider.

But a couple of kilometres later Froome had nowhere to go but off the road as the peloton negotiated a left-hand bend.

Many spectators at the finish line, watching on a big screen, cheered when they saw the crash.

Froome had an anti-doping case, hanging over him after an adverse analytical finding from his use of legal asthma drug salbutamol, dropped by governing body the UCI last Monday; he had also been jeered at a team presentation event on Thursday.

He rejoined the race within seconds, a scuff mark on the right shoulder of his jersey and eventually crossed the finish line, with Yates and Porte among others, 51 seconds behind Gaviria, who also picked up 10 bonus seconds.

Gaviria's fellow Colombian Nairo Quintana, another general classification rival of Froome's, avoided those crashes but, it was later revealed, collided with a traffic island with 3.5km remaining and he eventually lost a further 24 seconds to the Briton.

Froome's team-mate Geraint Thomas finished in the main bunch alongside Romain Bardet, Tom Dumoulin, Mikel Landa, Vincenzo Nibali and Rigoberto Uran as the overall contenders who take an early advantage over the four-time winner.

Gaviria makes stellar debut

Fernando Gaviria celebrates winning stage one of the 2018 Tour de France
Gaviria is the first Colombian to win a sprint finish at the Tour de France

While carnage unfolded behind them, Quick-Step Floors controlled the front of the race masterfully to put Gaviria in a strong position entering the home straight.

The 23-year-old kicked with just over 250m to go, holding off world champion Peter Sagan and 14-time Tour de France stage winner Marcel Kittel.

It was a remarkably assured performance on his Tour debut, suggesting Gaviria will be tough to beat in bunch sprints this year.

He becomes just the second Colombian to wear the yellow jersey after Victor Hugo Pena in 2003 and, with two flat stages and a team time trial over the next three days, could hold on to it before the punchy climbs of stage five.

What happened to Cavendish?

Mark Cavendish was attempting to take the yellow jersey with victory on stage one for the second time, having done so in 2016.

However, the 33-year-old found himself out of position in the final stages after several of his Dimension Data team-mates were caught up in the crashes and could not contest the sprint.

He remains on 30 Tour de France stage wins, four behind the record of Eddy Merckx, but has a chance to add to his tally on stage two, with another bunch sprint finish expected.

In his stage-by-stage guide for BBC Sport, Cavendish said it "won't be a pure bunch sprint" though due a 3% gradient rise in the final kilometre.

Stage two profile
Stage two runs 182.5km from Mouilleron-Saint-German to La Roche-sur-Yon

Stage one result

1. Fernando Gaviria (Col/Quick-Step Floors) 4hrs 23mins 32secs

2. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe) same time

3. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Katusha-Alpecin)

4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/UAE Team Emirates)

5. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis)

6. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo)

7. Michael Matthews (Aus/Team Sunweb)

8. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo)

9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana)

10. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora-Hansgrohe)

General classification after stage one

1. Fernando Gaviria (Col/Quick-Step Floors) 4hrs 23mins 32secs

2. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe) +4secs

3. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Katusha-Alpecin) +6secs

4. Oliver Naesen (Bel/AG2R La Mondiale) +9secs

5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/UAE Team Emirates) +10secs

6. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis) same time

7. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo)

8. Michael Matthews (Aus/Team Sunweb)

9. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo)

10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana)


14. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky)

36. Mark Cavendish (GB/Team Dimension Data)

84. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) +1min 1secs

91. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) same time

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